FDA regulations on 'vaping' industry causes some concern in NH
MANCHESTER — At least one owner of a shop that sells electronic devices and liquids for people to inhale vapors, and get off cigarettes believes the Food and Drug Administration’s new regulations on e-cigarettes and cigars will ultimately squash the industry and hand a monopoly over to a tobacco giant.
On Thursday, the FDA took its first steps to clamp down on e-cigarettes and cigars, banning sales to anyone under the age of 18 in hopes of preventing a new generation from becoming addicted to nicotine. The FDA now is regulating e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco just as it does cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco. The new regulations go into effect in 90 days.
Mike Johnson, owner of Holy Smokes on South Willow Street, said in New Hampshire it is already illegal to sell the e-products to anyone under the age of 18. He said his store was the first in New Hampshire to start selling e-liquid (e-juice) and e-cigarette mechanical mods and supplies in 2011.
He markets the product to soccer moms and those who want to kick the cigarette habit.
He believes the FDA’s regulations are designed to eliminate the “vape” industry entirely, handing Philip Morris a monopoly with its own smokeless cigarette. He said under the new regulations, only products available before 2007 are allowed. He said none of the vapor companies in the country comply with that, but Philip Morris does, having designed a product under an old trademark to meet the qualification.
“Go figure,” Johnson said.
He compares the FDA’s actions to what it did in banning clove cigarettes years ago.
Johnson believes the vapor stores will be OK for three to five years and maybe up to 10 years as lawsuits progress through the courts. He said other legislation, that would help the vape industry, is making its way through Congress.
The vapor tobacco industry has asked the Senate Appropriations Committee to add language to a spending bill that changes the grandfather date for electronic cigarettes and cigars under the new FDA rules.
Under the agency’s proposed rules, all products that come to market after Feb. 15, 2007, would have to apply retroactively for approval — a process that companies say would be prohibitively expensive and could take years.
The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) said the final rule has the potential to ban nearly all vapor products currently on the market if the current “grandfather date” is left intact.
At Elite Vapor in Hooksett, employee Bobby Mead didn’t know what the proposed new regulations would do, but said he did not believe the products should be regulated as if they are cigarettes. They’re not, he said, pointing to a ceiling to floor banner that lists a variety of chemicals that are in cigarettes and not in e-cigarettes.
The e-liquid or juice used in the electronic devices can contain a small amount of nicotine — or none at all, he said, depending on what a customer is seeking. It also contains propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine, and flavorings.
The store’s most popular flavors, which it makes, are “Sweet Nipples,” which tastes of honey dew and pop rocks, and “Orgasm,” a mixture of mango and lychee.
Customer Andy of Pembroke, who asked his last name not be published, because his parents don’t know their 36-year-old son is vaping, said he used the e-products to kick the nicotine habit. He never had smoked in the house and, when he started vaping, he continued going outside on the porch in 20 degree weather.
But, when he realized the vapor dissipated quickly, leaving no offending odor behind, he found he could stay inside in the warm comfort of his home on those frigid days.