Daily Vaper

FDA Could Trigger Massive E-Cig Black Market, Turn Vapers Back To Smoking

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could start a massive black market and turn millions of vapers back to cigarettes if it pushes ahead with stricter regulations on e-cigarettes.

One of the largest surveys of vapers ever conducted shows vast numbers of former smokers and those who have substantially cut the amount they smoke would try and get their favorite e-liquids from abroad or on the black market if the products are banned by the FDA.

Conducted by The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), the survey examined close to 20,000 vapers at the end of 2015. The participants were drawn from CASAA members resident in the U.S. and were representative of as many as two million e-cigarette users.

CASAA put three different scenarios of FDA interference to participants, the first being total prohibition of e-cigarette sales.

More than a fifth of those who had quit smoking said they would start again under this scenario while 50 percent of vapers who still occasionally smoke said they would smoke more. More than 90 percent said they would turn to the black market, overseas or homemade products.

Under the second scenario, all e-cigarette products would be banned with the exception of a few so-called, “closed-system cigalikes,” that will only be made with tobacco and menthol flavors and cost more than today’s versions. Cigalikes are e-cigarettes that look and feel like regular cigarettes.

More than one fifth of vapers who’ve already quit responded that they would turn back to cigarettes and the 46 percent who still smoke would increase the amount they smoke. The percentage who said they would continue to use the e-cigarettes of their choice by skating around the law breached 90 percent.

In the third and most lenient scenario, all types e-cigarette devices would still be sold legally but all e-liquid and e-cigarettes would be tobacco or menthol flavored.

Even in this more relaxed scenario, 14 percent of quitters said they would begin smoking cigarettes and more than a third of those who smoke as well as vape said they would smoke more.

Close to 90 percent of those surveyed under this scenario said they would find alternative ways to get their favorite flavor of e-cigarettes. The results highlight the importance of flavors to many vapers who have quit or reduced their cigarette consumption.

Reacting to the results, President of The American Vaping Association Gregory Conley told The Daily Caller News Foundation:

Despite being statutorily required to study the black market consequences of new regulations, the FDA has yet to mutter a single word about this subject. The agency cannot honestly claim to be ignorant of the potentially multi-billion dollar underground market that the deeming regulation would create.

The FDA’s “deeming” rules likely to be implemented in 2016 will require all e-cigarette products released after Feb. 15, 2007, to undergo the costly Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process. The PMTA process for each individual product can run between $2-10 million.

Vaping businesses — which typically sell dozens if not hundreds of these products — will not be able to meet this financial burden – meaning they will have to close their doors – destroying around 99 percent of the e-cigarette market and effectively prohibiting the majority of e-cigarette products.

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