By Michael Hill
It’s a victory for health advocates and for Congressman Frank Pallone saying, “It’s kinda better late than never, I guess is the best way to say.”
This week, the Food and Drug Administration began limiting the sale of e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, cigars and hookah tobacco to any one younger than 18 and requiring ID checks of anyone who appears younger than 27. Pallone co-wrote the law that also applies to free samples to minors and vending machines accessible to minors.
“And now they’ll also have the authority to put warnings as well. So, I think as this develops and we treat e-cigrettes and these other tobacco products you know more like you know traditional cigarettes and give the FDA exercises that authority hopefully we’ll see the use decrease,” Pallone said.
“It’s actually kind of difficult to describe what FDA has done as a positive when 48 states, with the exception of Pennsylvanian and Michigan, have already set minimum legal purchase ages for these products,” said Alex Clark.
Clark says parents should have a say about the smoke-less vaping products their minor children use. Clark is the legislative coordinator for The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association.
Is vapor safer than nicotine smoking?
He said, “Well, yes, there is no combustion involved in using a vapor product. That alone makes these products 95 to 98 percent safer than smoking.”
“A lot of young people have the impression that e-cigarettes are not dangerous at all,” Senator Pallone stated.
And Pallone says that’s what has sold so many middle and high school students — a million and a half based on a 2014 study – on e-cigarettes with flavored tobacco.
But, part of the FDA’s new rules require companies to submit each vaping liquid that varies by flavor and amount of nicotine and each hookah tobacco product to the FDA for approval by 2018.
Advocates and shop owners in the industry say there is no question that this application process will drive some small companies out of business.
“That’s the end result you may argue that that’s the goal, but that’s certainly what these regulations will accomplish,” Clark said.
The FDA approval process applies to vape products made after 2007. CASAA has launched an online petition drive seeking to have Congress change that to this year. Otherwise industry advocates fear 99 percent of the vape business will disappear.
Dan Donahue owns two Good Karma Vapor shops in Bergen County.
“To be honest with you knowing new regulations were coming out have already precluded me from opening a third shop. I had all intention and all investment ready six months ago to open a third facility,” said Donahue.
The vape industry in New Jersey boasts it was among the fastest growing small business sectors in the Garden State, employing thousands of workers and contributing millions in tax revenues with doubts now about its future.