Thanks to an onslaught of onerous new taxes and regulations, e-cigarette experts estimate that 99 percent of the vapor market in the U.S. could vanish within the next two years. In addition to the FDA requiring all vapor products to undergo an expensive pre-market approval process, new state laws are imposing massive taxes on stores selling e-cigs and e-liquids. Some vape shops and manufacturers are already closing their doors because they cannot afford to comply, which could leave most vapers without a potentially safer alternative to smoking. Fortunately, in what could be a last-ditch effort to save the vaping industry, the Right To Vape Campaign is taking a bus tour through 15 states to spread awareness about the potential health benefits of e-cigs and urge congress to make more sensible e-cig regulations.
The Right To Vape Campaign Goes on Tour
The Right to Vape Campaign is a collaboration between the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association and the American Vaping Association. The organizations are mobilizing voters across the U.S. to encourage representatives up for re-election to amend the FDA’s Deeming Regulations. According to the group’s website, the tour will consist of a series of “press conferences, rallies, and town halls aimed at urging Congress to bring an end to the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory war on vaping.”
The campaign will also target specific legislation in individual states. For example, Pennsylvania is implementing a massive sin tax on vapor products, which not only requires consumers to pay a 40% sales tax on vapor product purchases, but also requires vape shop owners to pay a “floor tax” equal to 40 percent of the value of their total inventory. Although a new bill, HB 2342, has been introduced to replace the 40% tax on all vapor products with a 5 cents per milliliter tax on e-liquids, the 40% tax passed with HB 1198 is set to take effect on October 1st, 2016. All vapers and vape shop owners in Pennsylvania are strongly urged to send a message to their state legislators to support the bill for more sensible e-cig regulations.
Related: New Sin Tax on Vapor Products Heading for Pennsylvania
In May of 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed off on HB 1432 a law requiring all e-liquid manufacturers to obtain a five-year permit with an independent security firm. As it turned out, only one independent security firm could meet the requirements set by the law for inspecting and securing e-liquids, which effectively created a monopoly. In August of 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana overruled the vape law in a preliminary injunction ruling. Judge Richard Young ruled that Indiana’s vape law was in violation of the Constitution and stated that the sale of e-liquid does not require an approval from the state’s Alcohol Tobacco Commission. There is no word yet on whether the state will appeal the ruling; however, there have been reports that the FBI is now investigating the vaping law to determine if any illegal activity led to its creation.
In addition to those states, the Right to Vape Campaign will visit Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia.
Vapers Across the U.S. Feel the Sting of E-cig Regulations
The vaping industry in the U.S. currently consists of about 1,000 manufacturers and wholesalers in addition to about 10,000 vape shops that sell their products. Vape stores in Texas are now displaying signs explaining to customers what services they can no longer provide due to regulations: They cannot assemble or troubleshoot e-cig products; they cannot discuss any potential health effects of e-cigs; and they cannot let customers sample vapor products. Many vape shop owners are afraid their suppliers will be unable to comply with FDA regulations, which is why stores like Hub City Vapors in Lubbock have already cut their losses, liquidated their stock and closed shop.
The Wall Street Journal estimates that the FDA approval process costs between $2-10 million per product. Since every individual e-liquid flavor must now be subject to FDA testing, shops that mix their own e-liquids will be forced to shut down. Ironically, the only e-cig manufactures that can afford to comply with the FDA are tobacco companies. After years of trying to undermine the vaping industry, many tobacco brands started selling their own vapor products, and the new laws will undoubtedly benefit them. Consequently, vapers will have fewer choices and fewer alternatives to traditional tobacco.
Get on Board with The Right to Vape Campaign
Even if the Right to Vape Tour isn’t coming to your town, you can still get on board with their campaign. The organizers are encouraging all Americans to contact their federal legislators to urge them to support HR 2058 and the Cole-Bishop amendment. The proposed Cole-Bishop amendment would exempt vapor products already on the market from the costly pre-market approval process. Time is running out, so now may be your last chance to take a stand for your right to vape.