FDA’s bans on flavored e-cigs create chaos for small vape shops

Katherine Ellen Foley

This article by Katherine Ellen Foley appeared in Politico on September 22.

Small- and medium-sized e-cigarette makers and vendors are fighting to keep their doors open after the Food and Drug Administration ordered them to stop selling more than 6 million flavored vapes.

The agency shook up the market in the run-up to a Sept. 9 deadline for determining which vaping products could stay on the market by denying nearly 300 companies’ applications to continue selling e-cigs with flavors like cotton candy and cinnamon toast. It also informed several that their paperwork was missing key information. But the FDA has yet to act on applications from the biggest manufacturers, including Juul, Vuse and NJOY.

That has left smaller firms to weigh whether to buck the FDA and face the potential financial and legal consequences, amid questions about how aggressively the agency will enforce the new marketing limitations. Many small vape shops argue that they risk going bankrupt if they comply with the agency’s orders, which have severely depleted their legal inventory. Some are exploring the use of synthetic nicotine, a costly alternative that falls outside of FDA’s current regulatory authority.

The result is widespread confusion, with industry watchers predicting that many smaller manufacturers are likely to keep selling banned products until FDA’s enforcement strategy becomes clearer.

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