Vejpare fights for e-cigs in the US - "last chance"

A regulatory framework that threatens to wipe out the independent US e-cigarette industry. It has prompted vejpare to demonstrate outside the White House.
"Unless something changes immediately, it means the end of the independent vejp industry in the US" Says Tristan Thompson, President of the United Vapers Alliance, a consumer-driven organisation behind the demonstration.

The large US market for electronic cigarettes could change fundamentally after 9 September. From then on, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) will require authorisation for every product currently on sale in vejp shops. This includes everything from e-juice to mods and tanks.

Authorisations that cost millions

An application for authorisation is based on a regulatory framework created to control cigarettes and other tobacco products. It must contain, among other things, detailed information, with underlying scientific studies, showing the health effects of the product. Studies that companies must pay for themselves. A single application is estimated to cost the equivalent of SEK 2 to 4 million.

"Now imagine that a juice manufacturer has 100 juices. In five different nicotine strengths. Each variation in the product needs a unique authorisation. That's SEK 5.5 billion. What small business owner can afford that?" Says Amanda Wheeler, who runs vejpshoppes in three states, to InsideSources magazine.

Tobacco companies take over e-cigarettes

The answer is quite simple. The companies that have submitted applications are certainly few. But what they have in common is that they are fully, or partly, backed by big tobacco. Simpler products such as small closed pod systems, with few flavour variations, have been the hallmark of the tobacco-owned part of the e-cigarette industry. This is also where the money and interest to seek authorisation is. The first product to be authorised for sale under the new regulation was, not surprisingly, Philip Morris' heat-not-burn venture, IQOS. Companies such as JUUL, partly owned by Phillip Morris, Myblu (Imperial brands) and Logic (Japan Tobacco) have also, according to own data, applications in.

Independents cannot afford to seek authorisation

But where the tobacco-owned market is dominated by simpler products with a limited range of flavours, the independent market is defined by completely different products. A variety of smaller juice companies supply the e-liquid. The hardware often comes from China. The variety of flavoured e-juices and different types of e-cigarettes make up virtually the entire supply for the 14,000 smaller vejp shoppers in the US. And if manufacturers don't get their applications approved, these products will soon disappear from the shelves.

"Business owners are already starting to close up shop. You can't renew leases when you don't know what you can sell in your shop," says Tristan Thompson to Vejpkollen. "At the same time, manufacturers are fighting back because they cannot afford an application. There is a chain effect that affects the whole industry"

"Reasonable for most to close down"

According to Niklas Linder, Chairman of the Swedish Trade Association for Electronic Cigarettes, the situation is serious. 

"In just over a week, virtually all vejp products in the US will be banned from being sold on the US market. It seems reasonable that most companies will have to close down" says Niklas Linder to Vejpkollen.

And what happens next can only be speculated, he says.

"More than 10 million active vejpers who suddenly won't be allowed to shop - or will the shops stay open anyway? This could end either way" says Niklas Linder.

More American juices in Sweden

Swedish vejpshoppers and e-cigarette users will also notice the situation in the US. But not to any great extent, believe Niklas Linder. At least not at the moment.

"In Sweden, we have relatively few American products in the range, it is basically about single e-juices/shortfills"

Instead, the Swedish market can actually expect a wider range of American juices in the future, believes Niklas Linder.

"US manufacturers with good supply chains in Europe are not quite as badly off because they have more markets to sell their products in (e.g. Sweden). We will probably see the occasional product disappear, but also more pressure from US companies that need new markets to sell their products." says Niklas Linder to Vejpkollen

Hoping for Donald Trump

But for a large percentage of US vejpers, only uncertainty remains. And many analysts predict a growing black market for those who want to continue vejpa with different flavours. But President Donald Trump could step in and stop the FDA and change the process for applications. At least that's what Tristan Thompson and thousands of UVA supporters are hoping for.

"I am just a consumer. But I demand access to harm reduction products that help people quit smoking. A president can limit an agency's powers through a so-called executive order. It has happened before. We are demonstrating to make it happen now." Says Tristan Thompson to Vejpkollen.

Stopping a national flavour ban

Last year, organised by UVA a demonstration outside the White House where 3,500 vejpers took a stand against a looming national flavour ban. At the time Donald Trump more or less ban all flavours in e-liquid except tobacco and menthol. But after listening to the protests and realising the consequences of a ban backed Trump. And when a ban did come, it was limited to only certain flavours in pre-filled pod systems - the type of e-cigarette that, according to some organisations, attracts minors to try vejpning.

13 million Americans use e-cigs

But with nearly 13 million e-cigarette users spread across the country, the vejps' votes matter, especially in an election year. The last election was decided by just a few thousand votes in some key states.

"And our message is clear. This issue is important to all vejpers. And Trump risks losing us in the key swing states if he does nothing on this issue" says Tristan Thompson.

Follow the demonstration on Twitter under the hashtag:


United Vapers Alliance website

ONE VOICE | Vapers Rally to Save the Vape, Washington, DC - RegWatch (YouTube)

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