Officially established in 2007, the vapor industry has grown at a historic rate. Reaching an astonishing $3.5 billion at the end of 2015, the vapor industry seemed unstoppable, rivaling their competitors in the tobacco industry. But in states like Indiana, vape shop owners are dreading local restrictions on the products they sell. Compounding those fears is the Food and Drug Administration, who looks to issue guidelines that many owners feel will put them out of business.
Alongside the ruling in May of this year to prohibit sales to minors, the FDA now requires that all vapor products made after 2007 must receive government approval. These requirements apply to both electronic cigarettes that resemble traditional cigarettes and vaporizers, to the e-liquid used within the vaporizers. This ruling comes from the FDA’s emphasized concerns about the increase in youths using e-cigarette products and it fears that, for many, use of e-cigarettes eventually translates into traditional smoking.
One Indiana vapor store owner, Evan McMahon from Hoosier Vapers, said, “It’s the final nail in the coffin. Everybody universally understands that this is not a regulation, it’s a prohibition.” Roughly 200 to 250 specialty vape shops exist in the state of Indiana, and several of them make their own e-juice or liquid that goes into the vaporizers. The new law passed by the FDA now takes away small mom and pop shops' ability to create their custom juices, putting it in the hands of a few specific companies. Many store owners, like McMahon, fear that they will be forced to close their shops because of this ruling.
For those vapor store owners who plan on continuing business through the storm that is the new FDA and state laws, it is imperative for them to have contracts with vapor quality companies that meet specific safety qualifications set by the FDA. One of the FDA regulations is requiring products to contain labels that say nicotine is addictive. Another requirement is that all products that have hit the market since 2007 must receive federal approval. But what many store owners are finding is that it is becoming more and more of a burden for them to stay in business as manufacturers. The American Vaping Association has estimated that receiving approval for just one flavor would cost an excess of $1 million.
McMahon, who manufactures 37 flavors of e-juice, is not optimistic. Best case scenario, he says, “Prices for these products will likely increase while most of the industry is forced out. The only winner in this picture is Big Tobacco, which already has made some forays into the e-cigarette industry.”