There has been endless chatter lately within our industry and people seem to be in a panic. We have taken the time here at Midwest Vapor to wrap our minds around it, take a deep breath, and consult with the resources we have rooted deep in the industry. We are not in a panic. Many publications and associations have written long informative articles about what the regulations mean and the tone goes into one of two directions: informative or upset. Midwest Vapor is adding a third tone to this discussion: Confident. Here is where we stand and what the FDA regulations mean to us.
The FDA has stated they have one goal in mind when setting regulations: to protect the American People. Is it important to help consumers make well informed, well researched decisions? Yes. If it weren't for government research, testing and regulation then doctors would still be telling women they could smoke throughout their pregnancies to ensure having cute petite babies. We agree that all the research the FDA does takes a lot of pressure and spending off of the American Public. We couldn't all individually take on the burden of researching these things ourselves. The American people surely can't know the long term effects of different products and drugs, and by the time they would figure it out, it would be too late. So at the end of the day we have to trust their intentions are good.
We do not, however, want to come across as naive. It is the opinion of many that the government often has the interest of different industries in mind. In the case of the eCig regulations many proprietors seem to think the tobacco industry is the enemy. We need to remember that while traditional cigarettes are still the primary source of income for BIG TOBACCO, they have a stake in this too. Almost all big tobacco companies have a line of eCigs. They are all trying to stay current, ahead of the trends, and give consumers what they want. They recognize many consumers are trying to get away from traditional cigarettes and they do not want to lose those customers. So while the FDA regulations may indeed be leaning to support a different industry, we do not believe it is for the benefit of big tobacco.
For those who have not reviewed the regulations or cannot understand all the loop holes and jargon, there is a big point that isn't made very straight forward. Midwest Vapor, and other retailers of eCig products, are now categorized as manufacturers. So when the regulations put the responsibility of funding research and submitting applications on the manufacturer, that is us. Even though we do not physically make the eLiquid and mechanical devises here at our shop, the products are not in end use form, except for the disposable line we sell. A lot of these regulations focus on the END USE of our products. If they are indeed intended to be used solely for the use of vaporizing nicotine, they are now a tobacco product. So what does this mean for us? We obviously cannot shoulder the burden of paying for all this research and registration of products. This means that product lines may change for us, and for all other vape shops (aka: manufacturers). At Midwest Vapor we plan to stay ahead of the curve and keep our knowledge up to date so you won't go without the great products we supply.
We have already experienced some pressure and changes which have forced us to change the way we do things, yet we've kept our doors open and are still doing well because of our loyal customers. These changes are mostly focused on acquiring new customers. For example, a few of the malls (which we started in almost a decade ago) chose to ban the use of electronic cigarette devices. This meant that we were no longer allowed to let customers sample our product or show them how they work. This was huge because, who is going to buy before they try when it comes to a big change like using eCigs? So we chose to close our kiosk locations as the overhead was far too high without the promise of gaining new satisfied customers. So this left us with our successful online store and flagship downtown location. Then recently, in August, enforced regulation meant we could no longer provide free "taste tests" in our shop. While this seemed devastating, it hasn't left too many people unhappy. The fact that we can still vape in our shop brings people in the door to have conversations about flavors and our knowledgeable team can still help people find a satisfying vape experience.
I recently read about a new development about a FDA Citizen Petition filed in May. This petition, filed by the Vapor Technology Association (VTA), Smoke-free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), NJOY LLC, and several other businesses, forces the FDA to respond within 150 days to their points. The petition requests clearer guidelines on how to get approval on existing products and asks for a delay on application deadlines. These points they brought to the forefront will help with those strict rules which the "manufacturer" has to abide by, as well as help the smaller shops stay in business. This petition will carry much more weight than the petitions circling the internet. We are excited to see what the response will be.
We still want to hear your questions and concerns over the changes. Let us know!