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Vape Shops Want to Do Good, but Fear F.D.A. Won’t Let Them Do Well

Starting with the regulations, which the agency imposed in August 2016 and are set to go into full effect in August 2018, require costly testing of all vaping products, and offer new guidelines on manufacturing, sales, packaging and advertising of e-cigarettes. The agency said it would begin to review the health risks of all e-cigarettes introduced since early 2007, and potentially ban products it deemed harmful.

Some people anticipate that President Trump, with his oft-stated pro-business stance, will slow the regulations or stop them from going into effect. But that is small comfort to those whose livelihoods depend on e-cigarettes and who credit vaping with turning their lives around.

Several public health physicians, asked if vaping is safe, were unanimous: It is safer than smoking tobacco — which involves inhaling tar and 7,000-plus chemicals, 50 of which are carcinogens — but not definitively harm-free.

The jury’s still out,” said Dr. Michael Fiore, founder and director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, a 25-year-old program.


One issue has remarkably divided the public health community. Some feel e-cigarettes are a remarkably positive force, and some feel they are a remarkably negative force.

The thing pretty much everyone agrees on, is that all youth should be protected from any tobacco or nicotine products. There’s lots of data to support that.

Dr. Fiore said.


A government report found that 16 percent of high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in 2015, up from 1.5 percent in 2011. Particularly worrisome to the medical community are e-cigarettes marketed in child-friendly flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy.


E-cigarettes are markedly less dangerous than combustible tobacco, but markedly less dangerous doesn’t mean safe

Dr. Fiore said


The products have certainly become widely available. Vape shops have popped up all over the country, in part because the barriers to entry are low. According to the American Vaping Association, there are 10,000 to 15,000 vape shops nationally, employing 50,000 to 100,000 people. The business is profitable, according to the association

For many vape store owners, it’s not just a business but a mission, a way to help others stop smoking, as they have. Yet the looming F.D.A. deadline has upended the industry and left many business operators frustrated and confused.

Kim Thompson has owned three brick-and-mortar vape shops in Tacoma, Wash., since January 2011, in addition to an online store. Her shops, ranging in size from 700 to 3,000 square feet, were doing well — until the F.D.A. rules came down, she said.


The industry is not stable. My employees are very concerned, and some of my best people are looking for new jobs as a result. Even though the regulations haven’t gone into effect, I’m seeing difficulty.

Ms. Thompson, 47, said.


"Business is down 40 percent since the 2016 regulations"  Ms. Thompson said, and she has had to lay off 15 of her 25 full-time employees.

Mr. Mautner, 40, began his vaping business in 2011, shipping online only, having created a device with a friend who is a machinist. His sales were $500,000 the first year, he said. In 2016, he opened his first physical store, Empire Mods, in Flushing, Queens. Now he has a second store, with a partner, in Tamarac, Fla.


The first year was really tough, There was much more competition there. Now that we’re better established, we’re doing pretty well. You have to be on top of things,If you’re not two steps ahead, you’re in trouble.

Mr. Mautner said


Even the largest tobacco companies are concerned that August 2018 is too soon to comply with the F.D.A.’s many demands, said Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association. The largest players in the industry — like the Altria Group and the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company — also make e-cigarettes.

Bonnie Herzog, an analyst with Wells Fargo who tracks the vaping industry, agreed.


Even Altria have been somewhat public on pushing back on this,They’re fighting along with the little guy.

Bonnie Herzog said


 

Source: New York Times

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