In 2003, a revolution was born. Hon Lik, a pharmacist from China, watched his smoker father die from lung cancer. Lik was struggling toquit smoking by using the nicotine patch, with no success. He wanted to find a system that would deliver nicotine better, similar to a cigarette, but without the tar and carcinogen-filled smoke. As a result we now have the electronic cigarette, which has rapidly become the most popular alternative to cigarettes and most successful go-to quit aid.

As e-cigs gained popularity designs changed and safety features improved (temperature control is a recent innovation, for example).

Once consumers realized there were better options than the “cigalikes” made by tobacco companies, they started to pour their money into something that not only helped them stop smoking but often also became a dearly-loved hobby. Cigarette manufacturers saw profits falling fast, so they panicked. RJ Reynolds (Camel, Newport, Pall Mall) even went so far as to ask the Food and Drug Administration to ban all open systems (tanks, RDAs, and even mods) so that vapers would be forced to use poor-quality cigalikes and perhaps ultimately return to smoking.

Right now the vape industry is awaiting what is known as the “deeming regulations” from the FDA. As it currently stands, once these deeming regs pass every vapor product manufactured after February 15, 2007 will be required to undergo testing and review by the FDA, an expensive and time-consuming process.

In fact it’s likely that very few vape businesses, which are mostly small- to medium-sized companies, will be able to even think about it. Eliquid vendors would have to submit information for each individual flavor at every available nicotine level, with a price tag of at least $250,000 attached to each one.

As a result of not being able to comply with these absurd requirements, vape shops all around the country will be forced to close their doors. Thousands of vape shop owners will lose their businesses (and possibly even their life savings invested in their shop), and tens of thousands of vape shop employees will lose their jobs.

Millions of dollars that would have been paid in sales tax to the states will be spent elsewhere, most likely on vapor products purchased from the inevitable black market.

There is currently a bill being backed by Republicans (HR 2058) that would change the February 2007 grandfather date to April 28, 2015. If the bill is successful, only products introduced after that date would be required to undergo review by the FDA before they could be marketed for sale. If it is unsuccessful, the vapor industry will fall squarely into the hands of the tobacco companies, as they are the only ones with adequate funds required for product review. Vaping, as we currently know it, will become a thing of the past.

A few months from now, a film called “A Billion Lives” will be released to the public. Directed by Aaron Biebert and produced by Attention Era Media, “A Billion Lives” looks deep into government corruption, corporate lobbying, and the public health organizations that are using our tax dollars to survive while telling lies about vaping. Meanwhile many vapers are worried that it’s already too late to avoid the loss of the devices they believe have changed their lives.

Image by Shannon Farris and released under CC BY 2.0 license

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