How Much Nicotine is in a Cigarette?

March 6, 2020

In part one of our nicotine series, we looked into the history of nicotine, from where it comes from to how it has evolved over the years. Now we’ll explore how much nicotine is in a cigarette compared to alternative nicotine delivery products.

From Smoking to Vaping: Understanding Nicotine Content

Choosing the right nicotine strength is crucial when switching from smoking to vaping. The act of vaping might look and feel like smoking, but the nicotine content and delivery method is quite different.

Fortunately, the nicotine content in e-liquids is usually listed right on the labels, and you have the option to choose between different strengths.

But where does it say how how much nicotine is in a pack of cigarettes? It’s a bit of a guessing game, and the answer really depends on the type and brand.

So, How Much Nicotine is in an Average Cigarette?

According to a 2017 study conducted in the Behavioral Endocrinology Laboratory at Penn State University, a typical cigarette contains between 7.5 and 13.4 milligrams of nicotine. However, only about 1mg is actually absorbed into the body.

The amount of nicotine in a smoker’s bloodstream has more to do with how often they smoke rather than which brand they prefer. The additional chemicals added to cigarettes act as fuel to deliver nicotine as quickly as possible.

Nicotine can seep into your bloodstream through your skin, lungs or mucous membranes located in your nose and mouth. This is how nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as patches and gum, are designed to assist with smoking cessation and ease the symptoms of tobacco withdrawal.

E-cigarettes, which the FDA refers to as “electronic nicotine delivery systems” or “ENDS”, are designed to closely mimic the act of smoking. Yet, the nicotine delivery method has a significant impact on how it’s absorbed into the body.

If you’re switching from smoking to vaping, it’s important to understand the differences in nicotine delivery between the two.

So, How Much Nicotine is in E-Cigarettes?

Depending on the brand, e-cigs deliver nicotine through a mixture of vegetable glycerin (PG), glycerol and/or propylene glycol.

For example, White Cloud e-liquids contain a mixture of propylene glycol and glycerol, along with food-grade flavorings.

Unlike smoking, vaping allows you to tailor your nicotine intake with different nicotine strength options. The nicotine content in e-liquids is commonly measured in milligrams and can range anywhere from 3 milligrams to 54 milligrams.

Going by numbers, this might sound like a lot; however, studies conducted over the years have showed that vaping is actually a less effective nicotine delivery method than smoking. This means vapers on the whole consume less nicotine per puff.

Heavy smokers often go for the higher nicotine content when first switching to vaping. The higher levels are known to closely resembles smoking with the stronger “throat hit” many smokers crave.

Since e-liquid made up of, well, liquid, and milligrams are used to measure dry ingredients, we uses percentages, or nicotine by volume (NBV), rather than milligrams to indicate how much nicotine is in our e-liquids.

Many other brands go the milligram route, instead, so we often get questions regarding why we use nicotine by volume.

Here’s an extensive article about how we measure nicotine to help explain why we feel NBV is the more honest way to label e-liquids. You’ll also find tips for choosing the right nicotine strength based on your smoking habits.

So, How Much Nicotine is in NRTs?

As mentioned before, nicotine replacement products were designed to give smokers an alternative to inhaling the harmful chemicals in cigarettes to help them quit smoking.

For example, nicotine patches work through skin contact and deliver nicotine in controlled quantities over a 24-hour period. They typically come in doses of 5- to 22 milligrams.

Nicotine gums and lozenges usually come in 2- to 4 milligram doses and have a more immediate effect since they’re absorbed through the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth.

Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays come in various doses, as well – yet, similar to cigarettes, only about 1- to 2 milligrams are absorbed into the blood.

How Does Nicotine Affect the Body?

Most smokers reach for a cigarette to help calm them down in stressful situations. However, paradoxically, it actually stimulates the central nervous system. How is this possible? Learn more in part 3, the effects of nicotine on the body.

FDA Vaping Flavor Ban Update 2019

Vaping Flavor Ban Update: It Could Be Worse

January 16, 2020

With the recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and continued concerns over youth vaping, the Trump Administration and the FDA were set to ban all flavored electronic cigarettes in October 2019. The vaping industry waited on pins and needles, but the announcement never came.

Now, after months of anticipating a full flavor ban that could possibly shut down hundreds of vape shops and small vape companies across the nation, the FDA’s release of its Final Guidance for the regulation of electronic cigarettes brings a small sigh of relief to the vaping industry.

FDA E-Cig Flavor Ban Not as Bad as it Could Be


On January 2, 2020, the FDA released its Final Guidance for the regulation of electronic cigarettes. The guidance opens with an introduction to what’s included in the 53-page document, along with background information regarding the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco products and a timeline of revisions to the FDA’s original Deeming Regulations of 2016.

According to the guidance, the FDA’s authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products falls under the Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Additionally, the act also granted the agency the authority to “issue regulations deeming other products that meet the statutory definition of tobacco product” – hence the release of the FDA’s Deeming Regulations in May of 2016.

Within the guidance, the FDA has established specific terms with regards to its regulatory enforcement of electronic cigarettes, including:

Cartridge-based ENDS products – a type of ENDS product that consists of, includes, or involves a cartridge or pod that holds liquid that is to be aerosolized through product use. For purposes of this definition, a cartridge or pod is any small, enclosed unit (sealed or unsealed) designed to fit within or operate as part of an electronic nicotine delivery system. An example of products that would not be captured by this definition include completely self-contained, disposable products.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems (or ENDS) – include devices, components, and/or parts that deliver aerosolized e-liquid when inhaled. For example, FDA considers vapes or vape pens, personal vaporizers, e-cigarettes, cigalikes, e-pens, e-hookahs, e-cigars, and e-pipes to be ENDS.

E-liquids – a type of ENDS product and generally refer to liquid nicotine and nicotine-containing e-liquids (i.e., liquid nicotine combined with colorings, flavorings, and/or other ingredients). Liquids that do not contain nicotine or other material made or derived from tobacco, but that are intended or reasonably expected to be used with or for the human consumption of a tobacco product, may be components or parts and, therefore, subject to FDA’s tobacco control authorities.

Label – refers to the display of written, printed, or graphic matter upon the immediate container of any article as part of Section 201(k) of the FD&C Act.

Labeling – means all labels and other written, printed, or graphic matter (1) upon any article or any of its containers or wrappers, or (2) accompanying such article, as part of Section 201(m) of the FD&C Act.

New tobacco product – means (1) any tobacco product (including those products in test markets) that was not commercially marketed in the United States as of February 15, 2007; or (2) any modification (including a change in design, any component, any part, or any constituent, including a smoke constituent, or in the content, delivery or form of nicotine, or any other additive or ingredient) of a tobacco product where the modified product was commercially marketed in the United States after February 15, 2007, as part of Section 910(a) of the FD&C Act.

Tobacco product – any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product (except for raw materials other than tobacco used in manufacturing a component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product). The term “tobacco product” does not mean an article that under the FD&C Act is a drug (section 201(g)(1) (21 U.S.C 321(g)(1))), a device (section 201(h)), or a combination product (section 503(g) (21 U.S.C 353(g))). Section 201(rr) of the FD&C Act.

Youth Vaping and Flavor Concerns Drive FDA Regulations

The majority of the FDA’s Final Guidance addresses the concerns over youth vaping based on surveys conducted over the past few years, including the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) and Monitoring the Future (MTF), as well as comments submitted by the public in response to the March 2019 Draft Guidance.

According to the guidance, data compiled from the surveys suggests that youth vaping more than doubled among high school and middle school students from 2017 to 2019, while the claim that electronic cigarettes provide a gateway to combustible cigarettes for youth also remains.

The surveys also show that youth tend to prefer fruit and mint-based flavors rather than tobacco (yet electronic cigarettes are a gateway to smoking tobacco… 🤔) and that the majority use the smaller “pod”-based systems such as those manufactured by JUUL as they resemble a flash drive and are easier to conceal, unlike the larger open-tank devices.

Within the document, the FDA noted that the agency believes this policy “strikes an appropriate balance between restricting youth access to ENDS products and maintaining availability of potentially less harmful options for current and former adult smokers who have transitioned or wish to transition completely away from combusted tobacco products.”

In the meantime, the legal age to purchase tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, was raised to 21 nationwide with Trump’s signing of a $1.4 trillion spending package on December 20, 2019. The provision is yet another effort to curb youth vaping, which does make it easier for vape companies to avoid violating the age restriction, as opposed to keeping up with the ever-changing individual state laws and the Tobacco 21 Campaign. The new legal age to purchase tobacco products will take effect in the summer of 2020.

While much of the FDA’s guidance is focused on the issues of youth vaping, only about half a page addresses the more than 2,000 reported cases of vaping-related illnesses, stating that in “working closely with other federal and state agencies, the FDA has not been able to determine the cause of the outbreak.”

But the guidance also notes that “it appears that most of the patients impacted by these illnesses reported using THC-containing products, with evidence suggesting that additive agents, specifically Vitamin E, may play a causative role” and went on to note that many of the cases have involved individuals who have reported using multiple products, including some with nicotine and that the different substances and sources are still under investigation.

What Does the FDA’s Final Guidance Mean for Vapers?

For vapers, the FDA’s Final Guidance is both good news and bad news. Rather than go for a full flavor ban requiring the removal of all flavored vaping products from the market as anticipated, the FDA has instead narrowed it down to small pod-based systems based on their popularity with youth, such as those manufactured by JUUL.

According to the guidance, the FDA intends to prioritize its enforcement of the premarket review requirements for ENDS products within 30 days after issuing its Final Guidance on January 2, 2020, to include:

  • Any flavored, cartridge-based ENDS product (other than a tobacco- or menthol-flavored ENDS product);
  • All other ENDS products for which the manufacturer has failed to take (or is failing to take) adequate measures to prevent minors’ access; and
  • Any ENDS product that is targeted to minors or whose marketing is likely to promote use of ENDS by minors.

This means as of February 6, 2020, adults will still be able to purchase and vape flavors in bottled e-liquids for open-tank systems as well as disposable electronic cigarettes, as noted in the guidance: “An example of products that would not be captured by this definition include completely self-contained, disposable products.”

However, this also means that any flavored product that does meet the definition above will become illegal without the submission of a premarket tobacco application (PMTA).

What’s the Deadline for Vape Companies to Submit PMTAs?

Currently, the final deadline for premarket tobacco applications is May 12, 2020, as opposed to the revised date of August 8, 2022 included with the August 2017 Compliance Policy, the FDA’s revised comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulations announced in July 2017.

In March 2018, the August 2017 Compliance Policy was challenged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland by several public health groups, and on May 15, 2019, the court issued an order to vacate the guidance. Then on July 12, 2019, the court issued another order directing the FDA to require PMTAs to be submitted to the agency within 10 months, setting the final PMTA deadline to May 12, 2020.

This means that PMTAs must be submitted by this date for all vaping products, both flavored and unflavored, in order to remain on the market while those that are “timely filed” may be provided with a one-year period during which they may remain on the market pending FDA review.

The document notes that the FDA will use the premarket review process to conduct “a science-based evaluation to determine whether a new tobacco product meets the applicable statutory standard for marketing authorization—for example, whether the product is appropriate for the protection of public health with respect to the risks and benefits to the population as a whole, including users and nonusers, and taking into account, among other things, the likelihood that those who do not use tobacco products will start using them.”

The guidance goes on to explain what the FDA will consider as it reviews PMTAs, including the products ingredients, additives, components and properties, as well as the manufacturing process and any studies or investigations into the health risks of each tobacco product.

Is The FDA’s Final Guidance for Vaping Regulations Really Final?

Although there are still pending lawsuits that could possibly change the PMTA deadline of May 12, 2020, including a lawsuit filed by the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) that challenges the FDA’s constantly shifting regulatory process along with violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, small vape shops and vapor companies are now in a scramble to either submit extensive and costly PMTAs by May 12, 2020, or close their doors for good.

Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco Now 21

Latest Spending Bill Increases Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco Nationwide

The vaping industry has endured its fair share of scrutiny over the years, with youth vaping at the top of the list. Public health groups and politicians nationwide have been taking several initiatives to combat what they have deemed the “youth vaping epidemic” – with flavor bans and raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products at the forefront.

After several years of constantly shifting age restrictions varying from city to city, state to state, the legal age to purchase tobacco products now falls under federal law.

New Legal Age to Purchase Tobacco Products Now 21

Age restrictions for the purchase of tobacco products have been slowly shifting over the years, with Hawaii being the first state to legally raise the age to 21 in 2015 and California following suit in 2016. Since then, the age restrictions have continued to increase (and vary) across the nation.

Then there’s the Tobacco 21 Campaign which was originally established in 1996 but didn’t gain much traction until the summer of 2019, when at the time only eight states had successfully raised the minimum age to 21. But with the sharp increase in youth vaping between 2017 and 2019, the Tobacco 21 initiative started gaining more traction. By the end of 2019, the campaign had reached 31 states and more than 500 cities.

Then, on December 20, 2019, President Trump signed a spending bill that included a provision to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products at the federal level. The provision took effect immediately, rather than 9 months from the signing as suggested in earlier reporting.

This means that, as of December 20, 2019, it is federally illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase tobacco products.

What the New Legal Age Means for the Vaping Industry

For retailers, the constantly changing age restrictions has made keeping up with varying local and state laws to avoid selling to those under the legal purchasing age of each city and state a bit challenging. Just take a look at our age restriction map from 2015:
U.S. Vaping Age Restrictions Map 2015

This map from 2016:
U.S. Vaping Age Restrictions Map 2016

And this map last updated in October of 2019:
U.S. Vaping Age Restrictions Map 2015

As shown in the most recently updated map, the legal age to purchase tobacco products was ranging from 18 to 21 across the nation, as well as within individual states. For online retailers, this was almost like a speed trap, as in they could be shipping two different orders to a state with varying age restrictions and if they miss that “road sign”, they’re in some trouble – not to mention the scarlet letter they receive for selling their products to underage customers.

How Does the Age Change Affect Online Retailers?

The anonymity of the Internet can present many challenges to online retailers in regulated industries, especially when it comes to products with legal age restrictions. However, technology has made great strides over the years and sophisticated software is readily available to assist online retailers with legal compliance when it comes to age-restricted products.

By now, all online vape companies should have a sophisticated age verification process in place – especially reputable companies committed to ensuring their products do not reach the hands of underage consumers.

Take White Cloud, for example: our products were designed for adult smokers and we have always made selling to our intended customers a main priority. When White Cloud first took off at brick and mortar kiosks, long before vaping age restrictions were legally set in place, we displayed “We Card” signs at each kiosk and checked IDs to ensure our products were staying out of the hands of minors.

By 2013, White Cloud’s online sales started increasing significantly, presenting challenges with verifying the age of purchasers and prompting us to seek sophisticated software that could help us stick to our age verification process.

By early 2014, White Cloud had a sophisticated online age verification process set in place thanks to our partnership with LexisNexis, which holds a database of more than 78 billion public records, including government issued IDs. This database allows us to verify the age of all purchasers to ensure our products stay out of the hands of minors.

In the event legal age cannot be verified based on the records in the LexisNexis database, the order is flagged and the customer is contacted to request proof of legal age. To proceed with the order, the customer must send us a photocopy of a state-issued ID or provide a previous address legally associated with their name as proof of residence. If these criteria are not met, the order is then canceled and refunded for the full amount.

LexisNexis routinely updates its database with new or amended laws and rules at federal, state and local levels, guaranteeing continual compliance. When a White Cloud customer’s age is verified, the customer is given a LexisNexis ID to allow the customer to continue receiving orders without going through the age verification process each time.

However, each time a state or locality raises the legal age to purchase tobacco products, the age of each customer within the affected location must be verified again in order to continue receiving orders.

Now that the legal age to purchase tobacco products has been raised to 21 at the federal level, we here at White Cloud can rest assured knowing that our products are only reaching the hands of adults.

More information on White Cloud’s age verification process and its effectiveness can be found on our blog here and in PDF form here.

FDA 2019 Flavor Ban

The Land of the Free to Become the Home of Adults Who Can’t Vape Flavors

November 6, 2019

In the 1999 film The Insider, Russell Crowe delivers an Oscar caliber performance playing tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand. Although much of the movie chronicles Wigand’s relentless efforts to reveal sensitive tobacco industry secrets, the fact remains Wigand would not have ever gotten any publicity traction until CBS decided to run numerous stories that were damaging to Big Tobacco.

As a New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher once said, “It’s Déjà vu all over again.”

Over the past several weeks, negative news stories have beset the vaping industry on an almost daily basis. From national stories describing vaping related lung illnesses to local newscasts presenting information about defective e-cigarette components, the vaping industry appears to be heading down the same road taken by Big Tobacco nearly 20 years ago.

The biggest difference is that an industry known for delivering what many studies have shown to be a safer alternative to tobacco could go up in smoke overnight. For years we’ve been saying the FDA’s Deeming Regulations could mean the end for the vaping industry, and now that tragic ending could be as soon as tomorrow.

The Feds Push to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

The vaping industry is on pins and needles awaiting an announcement from the Trump administration expected this week regarding flavored e-cigarettes and e-liquids. This announcement could involve immediately removing all flavored e-cigs and e-liquids from the market, leaving only tobacco and menthol.

The Trump administration’s announcement came on the heels of a large number of reports linking the rapid rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes to a handful of deaths and possibly hundreds of lung illnesses the medical community has associated with vaping products.

Despite the fact that the majority of the lung illness cases were linked to THC vapes, rather than nicotine, the administration still plans to move forward with the ban in an effort to combat what health organizations are calling the “youth vaping epidemic”, while completely ignoring the fact that the majority of adult vapers prefer flavors over tobacco and menthol varieties.

It would appear as though government officials and health organization members have completely lost their taste buds. For example, Governor Raimondo of Rhode Island held a press conference regarding her plans to implement and emergency statewide flavor ban, she asked the attendees, “What adult do you know drinks strawberry milk? Chocolate milk?” Then went on to say, “This is targeted at kids. Our kids.”

Unfortunately, she isn’t the only one who believes the vaping industry is “targeting” children rather than offering better-tasting alternatives to combustible cigarettes. Every single vaper in the country could get together and scream at the top of their lungs how they really feel about flavors, and they still wouldn’t be heard.

It’s enough to make you want to seek out that rock these people must be living under, or maybe just wonder, “What’s the real reason behind all of these vaping bans?”

Is the Tobacco Industry Behind the Ban?

Is has been 20 years since the release of The Insider, which means it has been 20 long years for the tobacco industry. During 2018, British American tobacco lost more than half of its stock value, while Phillip Morris took a hit of nearly 30%.

Although the combined value of the world tobacco industry is about $560 billion, the predicted annual growth rate for the tobacco industry is expected to remain a stagnant two percent through at least 2021. Much of blame for the decline of Big Tobacco centers on how alternatives to smoking tobacco cigarettes have made a negative impact on the industry. As opposed to the paltry rate of growth for tobacco cigarettes, the electronic cigarette market is expected to grow by 20.8% per year until 2025 (that is, if flavored vapes aren’t banned overnight).

Is the surge in vaping industry sales a strong enough reason for Big Tobacco to persuade politicians at all levels of government to regulate vaping industry products? The answer to the question is not clear. There has not been enough evidence presented that links Big Tobacco lobbying efforts to the sudden surge of vaping industry regulations.

But what is clear are two things:

  1. Smoking rates in the U.S. have been steadily declining and reaching all-time lows with the rise of vaping, which could mean less funding for the states as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement.
  2. With the decline in cigarette sales, states will be receiving less funding annually from the settlement, as the required payments are based on tobacco shares and sales.

If you’re unfamiliar with this settlement, here’s a quick rundown:

In 1998, the largest civil settlement in the U.S. took place between Big Tobacco and 46 state attorney generals, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. With the Tobacco Master Settlement, the states would receive $206 billion to be paid out over 25 years from 2000 to 2025 to cover the costs of smoking-related illnesses and deaths, as well as to allocate towards anti-smoking campaigns, smoking cessation programs, and cancer research.

Surprise, not so surprise, the states did not follow through with their end of the bargain. According to a report released last year on the 20th anniversary of the settlement, the states have received $27.5 billion only 1 out of the 46 states met the CDC-recommended levels of tobacco control funding. Instead of using the funds for what they were intended, nearly all of the involved states have been diverting that money into their general funding while leaving smoking cessation programs neglected and underfunded.

By just how much are these programs being underfunded? According to the American Lung Association’s annual State of Tobacco Control report for fiscal year 2018, only 3% of the Master Settlement funds actually went to tobacco control and cessation programs, with North Carolina allocating 75% of its funds to tobacco production.

With that much funding, the states could have easily put it towards research to help determine the role of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation and any potential health risks. Instead, it appears they’re doing everything they can to impose flavor bans and demonize the industry.

Is it Legal for the FDA to Enforce the Flavor Ban?

When it comes to issuing regulations, the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) requires proposed regulations to go through the formal rule-making process. This process requires the proposed rule be published in the Federal Register and to allow/respond to comments from the public before issuing the rule. But, of course, there are ways to find loopholes.

For example, Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, believes the FDA will be using its enforcement authority to promulgate a de facto ban on vape flavors and will escape the required public input and other due process requirements by issuing a guidance in regards to its enforcement of pre-market tobacco application (PMTA), which is currently scheduled to be enforced in May 2020 instead of 2021 and 2022 after a court ruling in July 2019.

Siegel believes that, rather than wait until May 2020, the FDA will instead enforce the PMTA requirement immediately for all flavored vapor products that have not been submitted for PMTAs.

So how does that result in a flavor “ban”? No flavored vaping products have been submitted for PMTAs, as the industry has been awaiting the FDA’s promised guidance since 2016…

Siegel believes this is illegal for 3 reasons:

  1. The guidance would violate an executive order issued by the Trump Administration last month, which stated that the public should receive a notice and opportunity to comment at least 30 days before issuing the final guidance.
  2. The guidance would violate the Congressional Review Act which requires a federal agency to submit any rule to Congress prior to its issuance.
  3. The guidance would violate the Administrative Procedure Act as the guidance represents “rule-making by enforcement”.

In the meantime, the White House cancelled meetings with several vaping advocacy groups scheduled for this week via an email sent in the middle of the night.

For the rest of the story on the legality of the FDA’s flavor ban, head over to Michael Siegel’s blog.

So What’s Next for the Vaping Industry?

With statewide flavor bans going up in smoke with the involvement of the courts, we can only hope that the law will be on our side if the Trump administration does manage to shut down nearly an entire industry overnight with an unjustified flavor ban.

This is why it’s important right now more than ever for us vapers to stand up for our rights and make our voices heard. Now let’s light up that White House switchboard and attend the United Vapers Alliance Rally being held in Washington D.C. this Saturday, November 9, 2019!

Judges Block Flavor Bans

Statewide Flavor Bans Are Going Up in Smoke

October 31, 2019

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest news surrounding vaping bans, you may have noticed a shift in headlines from “Governor Issues Emergency Ban on Flavored Vaping Products” to “Judge Blocks Flavored Vaping Ban”.

Yes, you read that correctly. The same domino effect of statewide emergency flavor bans sweeping across the U.S. has now reversed directions.

The Domino Effect of Flavor Bans Across the U.S.

Armed with the youth vaping “epidemic” and an outbreak of “vaping-related lung illnesses in recent months, state governments have been overstepping authority by issuing executive orders to enforce flavor bans for vaping products. From New York to Montana, judges are now blocking states from using executive orders to enforce bans on flavored vaping products.

First up is New York.

New York Judge Temporarily Halts Flavor Ban

On October 4, New York was set to become one of the first states to enforce an emergency ban on flavored vaping products; however, that ban came to a halt just one day before it was set to take effect.

On October 3, New York’s flavor ban was temporarily barred from being enforced following a New York State Court of Appeals ruling. The ruling was in favor of a lawsuit filed by the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) and local vaping businesses which argued for a preliminary injunction on the ban.

The flavor ban will remain on hold until a ruling on the motion for a preliminary injunction is determined, which was scheduled for October 18; however, there appears to be no new updates.

Michigan Judge Blocks Emergency Flavor Ban

In September, Michigan became the first state to propose an emergency ban on flavored vaping products in the midst of the lung illness outbreak. Armed with the outbreak and “youth vaping epidemic”, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order to enforce an emergency flavor ban which officially took effect on October 2; however, a court of claims judge halted the ban just a couple of weeks later.

In the October 15th ruling, Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens, citing evidence suggesting that adults could return to smoking more harmful tobacco products and that the “harm done to vape businesses, which would have to shut down because of the ban, outweighs the interest in stopping youths from using the products.”

The Whitner administration has also been under fire for its failure to acknowledge the link between lung illness cases and counterfeit THC vapes and instead focusing on banning flavored nicotine. Regardless, Whitmer has stated intentions “to seek an immediate stay and go directly to the Supreme Court to request a quick and final ruling”.

Until then, Michigan’s flavor ban will remain on hold.

Oregon’s Flavor Ban Blocked One Week After Approval

On October 17, the state of Oregon was temporarily barred from enforcing a flavor ban less than a week after its approval. An immediate temporary stay against the ban was issued by the Oregon Court of Appeals following a case brought on by the VTA and a group of vaping businesses

In defense of the ban, the Oregon Health Authority issued a statement claiming the ban is meant to be an “evidence-based strategy to prevent youth, as well as adults attracted to flavors, from becoming exposed to the health risks from vaping products and from becoming addicted to nicotine.” The health authority also stated it will continue its initiatives to permanently ban flavored vaping products, increase oversight of the industry, and discourage vaping.”

Montana’s Flavor Ban Under Temporary Restraining Order

On October 18, just one week before Montana governor’s emergency statewide flavor ban was set to take effect, a district judge issued a ruling temporarily barring the state from enforcing the ban.

The ruling came as a temporary restraining order in favor of a lawsuit brought on by the Montana Smoke Free Association and local vaping businesses who argued that the majority of vaping-related issues were associated with THC vapes, not flavored nicotine. They also argued that a ban would not only cause harm to those who rely on e-cigarettes to avoid smoking, but would also force them out of business as the majority of their sales come from flavored nicotine products sold to legal adults

Montana’s flavor ban remains on hold until a hearing, which was scheduled for October 30.

Utah’s Flavor Ban Overturned by District Court

Utah was set to become the next state to enforce a flavor ban on Monday, October 28; however, that same day the emergency ban was overturned in a ruling by 3rd District Court Judge Keith Kelly.

The ruling came as an emergency restraining order in favor of a lawsuit filed against the department of health by a group of vape shops for implementing the rule without public comment, citing that the ban would impose irreparable harm to their businesses.

The judge agreed that the Utah Department of Health overstepped its authority by implementing the emergency rule rather than following an administrative rule making process, and granted the emergency restraining order, which is scheduled to lapse November 22 when both sides will return to court for a preliminary injunction hearing.

Not All States Have Jumped on the Flavor BANdwagon

While some states have been using their authority to enforce emergency flavor bans, others have been declining – even California.

California Governor Declines Emergency Flavor Ban

Being known as one of the biggest “nanny states”, California quite surprisingly did not jump on the flavor BANdwagon. When approached with a proposed emergency flavor ban, Governor Gavin Newsom stated that, although he’d like to do so, he cannot take executive action without legislative support. Instead of a ban, the governor announced a campaign to crack down on counterfeit electronic cigarettes and youth vaping.

In the meantime, California cities have been taking matters into their own hands with San Francisco at the forefront of enforcing strict regulations.

In 2017, San Francisco became the first city to propose a flavor ban, which passed and took effect in 2018. In April of this year, Sacramento joined San Francisco with a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products within city limits, set to take effect January 2020.

Then in June, Beverly Hills made headlines when the city council voted to ban the sale of all tobacco products within city limits by 2021, with a few exceptions, such as a cigar club frequented by celebrities.

In July of 2019, San Francisco took back the headlines when the city took its flavor ban a step further by banning the sale of all vaping products within city limits, including shipments from online sales, while leaving cigarettes untouched. The ban is set to take effect in January 2020 unless voters vote “No” on the ballot for Proposition C in November, which a superior court judge ordered to reword following a lawsuit challenging the wording on the ballot to be misleading.

Tennessee Governor Also Declines Enforcing Statewide Flavor Ban

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is another to decline using executive authority to enforce a ban on flavored vaping products, stating he wants to see a clearer picture of the issue surround vaping-related illnesses before the state takes action. The governor acknowledged that the recent vaping-related deaths have come well after vaping became prominent and that he is not prepared to take action until further research and understanding.

Iowa is Another State to Avoid a Flavor Ban

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds also declined using an executive order to enforce a flavor ban, stating that other statewide flavor bans are being overturned and acknowledging that the majority of vaping-related illnesses were linked to illicit THC vapes.

Instead of a ban, the governor plans to reconsider raising the legal purchase age for vaping products from 18 to 21 as part of the Tobacco 21 initiative and has asked the Departments of Education, Human Services and Public Health to coordinate social media campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of vaping.

Illinois Pushes the Flavored Tobacco Ban Act

While Illinois may not be using executive authority to enforce an emergency flavor ban, lawmakers are in the process of trying to pass the Flavored Tobacco Ban Act to impose a statewide ban on the sale of all flavored electronic cigarettes and tobacco products. The proposed legislation was scheduled to be heard in an executive committee meeting on October 28; however, that meeting was rescheduled for October 30, with no word yet on final vote.

In the meantime, a bill to ban vaping in public places has passed the Illinois Senate and will be heading to the House for a vote.

Statewide Flavor Bans Still intact

While 5 of the 7 recent statewide vaping bans have been overturned, others still remain intact – including the full ban on vaping products in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Vaping Ban Holds Despite its Flaws

On September 24, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker shocked the nation with his order to enforce a four-month emergency ban on all vaping products – not just flavors.

The order came as a declaration of a public health emergency, claiming the reason behind the ban is to allow time for investigation into the recent outbreak of lung illnesses, as well as in an effort to combat youth vaping.

The ban brought on a couple of lawsuits, the first brought on by a group of local vape shops who the state had overstepped its authority, using vaping-related illnesses as the basis for the ban even though evidence was already linking the illnesses to THC vapes. The group also argued that they were given no notice and no chance to be heard before the ban took effect and were essentially forced out of business overnight.

The case was heard by a U.S. District Court judge who declined to issue the requested temporary restraining order, stating that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate hardships or threat of irreparable harm and that granting the order would conflict with public interest.

The second lawsuit came from the Vapor Technology Association on behalf of several retailers, including some based out of New Hampshire and Connecticut, which argued that the ban will not only destroy the livelihoods of more than 2,000 workers, but also violates interstate commerce laws as the ban also affects out-of-state wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers who supply the state’s vaping market.

The case was heard on October 21, with a Suffolk County Superior Court judge ruling that, despite its flaws, the ban would remain and gave the Baker administration a week to rewrite and reissue the ban through an emergency regulation. The judge also ordered the administration to provide an opportunity for public comment.

Rhode Island’s Flavor Ban Still Intact – For Now

While Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s emergency flavor ban, which became effective October 4, hasn’t been overturned just yet, it is in the works.

Governor Raimondo, who seems to believe no adult enjoys the taste of chocolate milk, held a press conference on September 25 to sign an executive order to ban flavored vaping products and ordered the health department to create the necessary regulations.

The VTA and a local vape shop owner are in the process of suing the governor, along with the state’s department of health and department of health head, stating that the ban would ruin hundreds of small businesses and that the emergency regulations implementing the ban are invalid and unlawful.

Is There Really a Public Health “Emergency”?

While U.S. politicians and health groups continue to abuse their authority and mislead the public regarding the recent lung illness outbreak, other countries like those in the UK are questioning whether or not there is a real crisis. While more than 1,000 vaping-related lung illness cases have been reported in the U.S., not a single case has surfaced in other countries where vaping is prominent.

When you pair that observation with the evidence linking the lung illnesses and vaping-related deaths to THC vapes, there is evidence of a crisis, just not in the nicotine vaping space. And even though the CDC has finally admitted THC vapes as the main culprit, the agency is still issuing vague warnings to refrain from “vaping”.

The U.S. and the UK appear to be polar opposites when it comes to public health. The UK’s Public Health England continues to support its 2016 evidence-based review that concluded vaping to be 95% safer than smoking, while U.S.’s equivalent, the CDC, continues to issue vague warnings about vaping without distinguishing between legally sold nicotine vapes and illicit THC vapes.

Other U.S. health groups have even gone as far as saying that vaping is more harmful than smoking, while junk science performed on mice continues its search to link vaping to cancer.
And when it comes to nicotine, the UK has also used evidence-based research to conclude that nicotine alone is not the harmful substance in traditional cigarettes, while the U.S. continues to view nicotine on the same scale as opioids.

We could only hope that the U.S. will embrace vaping in the same way as the UK, where at least two hospitals in England have actually opened vape shops to help encourage patients and visitors to quit smoking as part of an initiative to become smoke-free by 2030. But with state governments and even the Trump administration in a perpetual war over vaping, smoking may continue to be the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.