The FDA’s release of its deeming regulations sent the vaping industry into a near-panic this past Thursday when the final rules were announced. If the agency gets its way, the industry and thousands of jobs will indeed be paved over to make way for big business players. But, the government moves at a glacial pace, so we’ve got some time to act.
Let’s not forget, the FDA wanted to unleash its beast nearly two years ago. While the regulation should be published today, it won’t take effect for 90 days. And once that happens, there’s some deadlines that will need to happen giving us some runway to work with.
Norm Bour of Vape Mentors (and a ton of other projects) interviewed a well-connected lawyer who’s been working with the industry and regulators longer than I’ve been running this site. There was a lot of insight in the interview about what we can expect.
I’ll drop a clip here for you, you can view the whole episode when it comes out on Vape Radio.
This interview is kind of a build-up to a paid Q&A Vape Mentors is going to host on May 12th. While 51 bucks is a bit steep for consumers, it might not be a bad idea to check it out if you own a vape shop. It costs $51 bucks, half of which will go to CASAA. And it’s a pretty good deal to get to talk to a high-priced white-shoe lawyer.
For those of you who don’t wanna listen to the podcast or aren’t the target market for the Q&A session, I’ll share some highlights I gleaned from listening to the interview.
First of all, if you are a merchant with a product to launch, do it now. The regulation goes into full effect on August 8th, 2016. While the current FDA cutoff is somewhere in the jurassiac period, Tom Cole‘s attempt to clarify the regulation date is still alive. This would bring the grandfather date in line with the start date of the deeming regulation. If the bill succeeds stuff on the market before August 8th would be safe.
It may also be a good time to consider meeting some of the other requirements of the regulation like product labelling. In addition Mitch Zeller stated recently the FDA will be going after sales to minors almost immediately. Better get your houses in order there.
So that brings us to the actual timelines of this mess. This is when you can reasonably expect action against vapor companies to start happening (though the FDA has acknowledge it will take additional time to get stuff off retail shelves). The first deadline will be 24 months for substantial equivalence applications to be in.
As of now that means proving a product is no different than something you can get back in 2007. I’m not terribly optimistic about too many applications like that making it through.
12 months after that is the deadline for the dreaded pre-market authorization. This is the point at which the ban hammer comes down full swing. Any products on the market at this point that aren’t FDA approved will be removed.
The bottom line is you have some time before you won’t be able to buy stuff any more. So there’s no need to panic or horde just yet. It’s also very likely that there will be some lawsuits and legal challenges thrown at the FDA which may also stall the process.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should relax. That means that shit just got serious. Now is the time to start fighting. Everything else has just been a warm up.
Vendors, if you don’t belong to an organization with some lobbying and legal power behind it, it’s time to join up with a trade group. You will be burried on your own. Time to make nice with your competitors and pool your resources.
Consumers, it’s not time to leave this all up to the vendors either. While lobbyists and lawsuites do fuel the political engine. So do voters. Let your lawmakers know you aren’t happy. But be civil.
I suggest making actual phone calls or writing to every elected official you can vote out of office. Explain what vaping means to you, and how important it is as a political issue. Be polite and sincere. Use your own words, not a form letter.
Please don’t sign some online petition and think you’ve done enough, you haven’t. Petitons aren’t worth the paper they’re not printed on.
So, short story is you can breathe easy for now. We’ve got a good couple years before we’re handed over to Joe Camel and Stabby the Chantix Elf. But now is not the time to slack off, it’s time to keep vaping viable for everyone to come after you.
Big thanks to Norm for putting the interview and Q&A together.