When electronic cigarettes entered the public consumer market, the FDA was unsure on how to govern it. After years of debate over vaping’s intent and usage, the administration switched from trying to regulate e-cigs as a medical treatment, to temporarily categorizing them as a tobacco product until a time at which they could make a deeper assessment. Meanwhile, any conclusions on vaping by the FDA’s have been pushed back until November 8th of 2022.
Meanwhile, the regulatory ruling that has become known familiarly as “the deeming rule” has imposed stringent mandates overseeing vape shops and the e-cig industry. The FDA changes put small businesses in jeopardy. Small mom-and-pop vape shops lack the necessary capital to file costly testing of their products. As a result, weary retailers fear a black market of vaping would arise from a entire generation of small businesses created by vaping being wiped out. Critics of the deeming rule claim its statutes favor large manufacturers including a core group of electronic cigarettes brands owned by big tobacco.
How Big Tobacco Has Broken Into Electronic Cigarettes
Since 2014 tobacco giants like Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have acquired or launched their own versions of consumer electronic cigarettes. Favor for the “closed-system” or cig-a-like type e-cigs over mods is a primary criticism against the FDA’s regulations. At the time, the deeming rule was slated to wipe out an estimated 99 percent of small vaping companies including local vape shops.
The brands owned by big tobacco have gained considerable momentum over the years in the electronic cigarettes market. Through their traditional forms of print advertising and prominent placement in convenience stores where once their tobacco products were, they have regained a large foothold in vaping. Additionally, the FDA is due to reconvene on electronic cigarettes to re-evaluate how they are regulated.
Crucial considerations such as the possible ban of flavors will have to be assessed before the 2022 ruling finalizes them. Consequently, if the FDA were to outlaw flavors, the ruling would effectively cripple a critical component of vaping, one the industry would be unlikely to recover from. This determination would not affect the interests of big tobacco as they have consistently produced menthol and tobacco cartridges.
Though they have added flavors in the meantime, it’s clear the tobacco industry is waiting patiently for flavors to be banned so they can retake their market share and customers lost to small business. Until then, as of 2014 there were over 8,000 different flavors of e-juice. Best to enjoy them while they’re available.