The days of legal teenage vaping are over. Today, August 8, the FDA officially instituted a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, ending a wild era of freewheeling teens puffin’ clouds of dank nicotine vapor and extremely toxic chemicals. But that’s not all — it’s about to get a lot harder for everyone to vape the way they want to, because the FDA ruling goes way beyond just harshing a vape-inspired mellow.
The new regulations oversee all tobacco products, making vapes, vape accessories, and the vaping fluid itself all subject to FDA approval. Manufacturers will have to submit applications for FDA approval for every product they sell (although they can submit a collective application for multiple products). Under the new rules, vape sellers will be classified as either “manufacturers” or “retailers.” Anyone who mixes vape liquid is considered a “manufacturer,” so the FDA ruling will mean home-brewed vape flavors will be regulated and monitored by the FDA (if they want to stay above board).
The problem (for vape-juice-makers) is that can get very costly, very fast. The FDA estimates that the fee for a Premarket Tobacco Application (PMTA) is somewhere between $117,00 and $466,000, which means that the market of custom-mixed vape juice is pretty much going up in smoke. Now, only major manufacturers will be able to produce the stuff, as it will be regulated in the same way as cigarettes.
Now that vape juices are being regulated, companies will have to do extensive testing and analysis on each one to determine whether or not they’re safe — respectively speaking, it’s pretty obvious now that vapes aren’t safe in general. It’s assumed that firms will submit one big PMTA for all of their different flavors and mixes of vape liquid, but half a million dollars still isn’t chump change.
Still, it only makes sense that vape products would eventually have to fall under the same regulations as other drugs. The ruling also means vape shops can no longer give away free samples, something that was widely accepted before. Instead, you’ll have to buy the full bottle of vape-juice before you can start puffing it. The most inconvenient change is for online retailers, who now have to verify that customers are of age before making a sale, which Motherboard reports requires a complicated online process through a service like BlueCheck where users have to upload a selfie with their valid ID and the last four digits of their Social Security number.
Some vapers think that this last provision is a bit hypocritical.
Still, the FDA says the new vape legislation will be an overall positive. Its three main goals are to “prevent Americans — especially youth — from starting to use tobacco, encourage users to quit, and decrease the harms of tobacco product use.”
While teens will undoubtedly still find ways to vape, it’s probably good that their access to e-cigarette products will now be slightly more restricted.Photos via Getty Images / Andrew Burton, Getty Images / Dan Kitwood