In this round up of recent developments on the vaping regulations front, there are some winners, some losers and one "What the #$%$!?"
First, the good news. After a long, hard fight, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill in Florida, SB810, that would have banned all flavored vapes with the exception of menthol and tobacco. Governor DeSantis refused to bow to pressure and, instead, took the unusual step of actually deeply researching the issues.
“This legislation would almost assuredly lead more people to resume smoking cigarettes, and it would drive others to the hazardous black market,” DeSantis concluded. “The latter consequence is especially significant because the much-publicized cases of lung injury associated with vaping in recent years has been traced to illegal, or black market, vape cartridges containing THC, not to the types of legal vaping products this bill would abolish.”
Governor DeSantis has been rightly praised for his leadership and level headed response to this issue and Kai's Virgin Vapor adds our voice to the chorus lauding his decision.
Additionally, the vaper's rights organizations that spearheaded the effort to get this bill vetoed deserve all of our thanks and support. These include Florida Smoke-Free Association, the Vapor Technology Association, and CASAA. Their effort to highlight the negative impact of this bill, including a 1.5 billion dollar hit to the Florida economy, made this win for Florida vapers possible.
It should be noted that one of the supporters of this bill was the behemoth Juul. While support for banning flavored vapes from a vape company might seem surprising to some, readers of this blog likely recall that this is a classic Big Tobacco strategy: leverage government regulations to wipe out the competition while simultaneously virtue signaling false concern about youth vaping.
In this instance, Juul knew the bill would have allowed flavored vapes back into the market once they gained FDA approval through the PMTA process (something very few companies besides Juul can afford to pursue). The company seemed to be betting that a flavor ban would help kill off all the smaller and medium sized companies, thus handing Juul the market.
Kai's Virgin Vapor is based in California so we're especially sad to report on developments here. Bill SB793 was passed and then signed by Governor Newsom. The bill bans all flavored vapes, including menthol.
However, oddly, the bill only targets brick and mortar stores. Online sales of flavored vape products will still be allowed, as long as they are compliant with the onerous California STAKE Act which heavily burdens small companies with all sorts of time consuming and senseless busywork.
The bill goes into effect on January 1st, spelling instant doom for every vape shop in the state.
The bill is a permanent flavor ban and contains no provisions to allow flavored vapes back again after they gain FDA PMTA approval. Since PMTA's require companies to prove that their products are appropriate for the protection of the public health, banning FDA approved flavors does not make logical sense from a public health perspective.
Apparently this bill ticked off Big Tobacco because Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and a number of other tobacco and vapor companies filed a lawsuit in October seeking to overturn the flavor ban. The lawsuit argues that the State does not have the authority to enact a ban that is "different from, or in addition to" federal tobacco standards. That's because the law that gives the FDA authority to regulate vape products specifically denies state and local governments the right to set regulations that are out of line with federal standards.
Let's all keep our fingers crossed the lawsuit is successful. Now, if only they'd file lawsuits in the other states that have banned flavors--New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, in the city of Chicago, a ban on flavored vape products passed. The ban has been loudly criticized for two reasons.
First, flavored vape products sold in vape shops in Chicago are already proscribed such that vape shops only sell flavored vape products that contain zero nicotine, with "nic shots" sold separately for consumers to mix at home. The new ban isn't going to change anything there.
Second, the ban was originally supposed to also cover menthol cigarettes but this provision was jettisoned after an outcry from tobacco companies along with convenience store and gas station owners, prompting some to accuse the bill's sponsor of making a deal with the Big Tobacco devil.
Gregory Conley, the President of the Vapor Technology Association, openly stated that the bill's sponsor, Alderman Matt O’Shea, "made a deal with the tobacco industry — don’t touch our menthol cigarettes and we will support you banning a tiny percentage of our revenues" in the form of flavored vapes.
"Tomorrow, applications are due to the FDA requiring vaping product manufacturers to show that each of their products is 'appropriate for the protection of public health,'" Conley continued in a Tweet. "Even if the FDA says a flavored vaping product will PROTECT public health, it will still be banned. Why?"
I think we know why. Big Tobacco has the money and the clout to stop a menthol cigarette ban so the city council settled for a largely empty win that only hurt vapers while leaving smokers free to make their own choices.
Undoubtedly the craziest proposed legislation, however, comes from Australia. Kai's Virgin Vapor is fairly well known in Australia and, despite the high shipping cost to mail orders to customers there, we get a lot of orders from down under. Perhaps this is not surprising considering the fact that Australian vapers have few places to turn when it comes to sourcing vape juice.
It is illegal to sell vape juice that contains nicotine in Australia. It's also actually illegal to even possess vape juice in all but one Australian state. Vapers can purchase vape juice from overseas manufacturers if they have a prescription, however, only an estimated 1 to 2% of Australian vapers bother to actually get a prescription and, so far, there has been little enforcement.
That may be about to change. Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration has announced a plan to make vape products available in Australia, but only to individuals who obtain a doctor's prescription and have the patience to wade through a long and bureaucratic process to obtain the actual goods.
In order to crack down on vapers not taking the current laws seriously, the Administration is proposing fine of up to $222,000 Australian dollars for non-compliance! Yes, you read that right. Vaping without a prescription could cost you over $163,000 in U.S. dollars!
It is difficult to come up with any kind of an honest justification for a fine that steep when cigarettes continue to be readily available at any corner store and even pharmaceutical nicotine products, such as gums, lozenges and patches, don't require a prescription.
Let me restate that. It is IMPOSSIBLE to come up with an honest justification.
The legislation has not yet passed and public comments are currently being considered. Let's hope for the sake of our vaping brothers and sisters in Australia that some sort of sanity prevails.
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