Responsible regulation or else
Flavors are the core of the vaping experience. Like soft drinks and craft beer, flavor and branding is the differentiating factor that separates one brand from another. Vape juice flavoring has provided business, both small and large, to responsibly market their products to adults in interesting and inventive ways.
Consumers in any industry need a varied selection of products to satisfy individual tastes. This is especially true in the vape industry. Vape flavorings may even be essential to keep former cigarette smokers from relapsing into one of the deadliest addictions on the planet. Many vaping entrepreneurs even started their companies, not just to make money, but also as a personal moral crusade to help their friends, family and their greater community kick the habit.
Flavored vape juice has also created possibly the fastest-growing market in the modern era. This rich and diverse marketplace of flavored vape juice is a larger part of the vape industry than regulators might realize. In the US, approximately 15,000 vape shops and 5,000 vape juice manufacturers, distributors, etc. have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last decade. A majority of the jobs are in areas of the county that need them the most.
All of this — businesses, jobs, and a safer alternative to smoking — may go away with flavor bands and over-regulation in general.
Everyone within the vape industry knows that nearly every company strives to offer safe vaping products to adults. Every vaping company also knows that while adults enjoy vape juice flavors, that same appeal can also carry over into minors. And vape marketers go above and beyond current laws and regulations to make sure their products are not being sold to minors.
No one is marketing to children. Yes there have been a few bad actors that have pushed the envelope too far by making their brand message too appealing to minors. Some going as far as creating clone brands of products in other categories that specifically market to children. Most of these have been weeded out, very publicly, by the FDA and by self-regulation within the industry.
Standalone vape shops have also been vigilant to keep minors out of their stores. Just ask the FDA. In a recent report, the FDA found that vape shops did not sell to undercover vape shoppers most of the time. Compared to other retailers that sell vaping products, such as convenience stores and gas stations.
Vaping needs smart, data-driven regulation to keep consumers safe and to protect against the occasional bad actor. Vaping does not need knee-jerk, blanketed regulation. Which is exactly what is happening right now.
That’s what’s in the news right now. But I wonder if politicians and regulators even bothered to read the whole article. If they did they would find that most (and possibly all) cases have been from marijuana-based oils on the black market. Basically drug dealers. Not even from the legal cannabis industry.
And yet, responsible companies within the vape industry will be penalized from this news and knee-jerk, politically-driven, company-closing regulation that follows. Many of these companies would have hoped to help reduce the current #1 killer in the world—smoking-related heart and lung disease.
Responsible regulation or else
Hopefully regulators tune out of the twenty-four hour news cycle and look at the real data, real companies that have created real jobs in an industry that created a real alternative to a really bad habit, that really do not market to kids.
Or else the only option on the shelves to vapers will be a product that looks ominously like the product they vowed to their friends and family they will stop using forever. Do we really want to regulate vaping so much that it looks just like tobacco cigarettes? Isn’t that what we want to get away from in the first place? Isn’t that what we want kids to never want?
And what is a tobacco flavor? Does it really taste like tobacco? Aren’t all tastes relative to the taster? Even so called “flavorless vaping” has a distinctive, sweet flavor from polypropylene glycerol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), which are the base ingredients in vape juice.
Editor’s note: Since many VAPE news readers are the responsible small businesses that make up the vape industry, I would like to personally encourage you to stay positive. I remember, nearly ten years ago, attending some of the very first trade conventions. All that was on everyone’s minds was bad news from the mainstream press, followed by threats of outright bans from regulators. Cooler heads prevailed, and a positively disruptive and good industry got its chance to grow.
Remember: Vaping is still only the tiniest fraction of the tobacco cigarette industry. There is still a lot of good, responsible growth and work to be done. We will get that chance?
By the way, in case you never knew this: If you just add nicotine and natural flavorings to PG and VG you get vape juice. You can make it at home. Over-regulation and flavor bans will force many vapers to “DIY” their own vape juice. And if they do not want to make it themselves, they will buy it from a black market that will expand from irresponsible regulations and bans.
Erin Aly contributed to this story.
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