ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

FDA regulations make E-cigarette industry hazy

Andreas "Droz" Unruh bought his first personalized electronic cigarette in 2006. Now he owns a vape shop that specializes in custom-made e-juices and e-cigs.

The FDA passed guidelines that will cause makers of e-juice to find an manufacturer that complies with the guidelines. Stores like FogNDroz sell electronic cigarettes and products that will no longer be valid by the FDA in 2018. (Katherine Clayton/Republic)
The FDA passed guidelines that will cause makers of e-juice to find an manufacturer that complies with the guidelines. Stores like FogNDroz sell electronic cigarettes and products that will no longer be valid by the FDA in 2018. (Katherine Clayton/Republic)

Andreas "Droz" Unruh bought his first personalized electronic cigarette in 2006. Now he owns a vape shop that specializes in custom-made e-juices and e-cigs.

Unruh's retail shop, FogNDroz, is one of the 21 locations in Mitchell that sells e-cigs, the alternative to tobacco cigarettes. And Unruh isn't enthused about the recent mandates handed down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the battery-powered devices that heat up liquid known as electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs.

"It would eliminate all my flavors," Unruh said. He produces his own e-juice, the mixture that goes into e-cigs, and he will no longer be able to produce it when the FDA regulations go into effect.

"I would have to carry prepackaged stuff from China and I don't like that idea," he said.

All tobacco products, now including e-cigs, must abide by FDA standards. Stores that make custom e-juice will no longer be able to manufacture their own juices. Local retailers will have to buy e-juice from manufacturers that are FDA regulated and sell those packaged juices to customers.

ADVERTISEMENT

The FDA will begin enforcing this regulation in 2018. Businesses that make or modify tobacco products are considered manufacturers and are to comply with the standards set by the FDA.

All electronic nicotine delivery systems are considered to be tobacco products.

Retailers of tobacco products will no longer be able to sell electronic cigarettes to minors, give samples or sell tobacco products in vending machines starting August 8, 2016. The FDA gave retailers a 90-day grace period before the effective start day of the new standards.

E-cigs have been illegal to sell to minors in South Dakota since 2014, but this changes mandates that states have to follow this rule.

Mandates 'devastating' to local e-cig industry

The new regulations are "devastating," according to Unruh. His business and Hardcore Inc. are two Mitchell businesses that produce custom e-juice.

Unruh acknowledges the industry needs some "insight and oversight," but he also feels the guidelines the FDA has put in place "will decimate the industry."

Unruh does not think the new guidelines will stick due to the response from the vaping community.

ADVERTISEMENT

A petition was created in 2015 on change.org to fight the guidelines that were discussed and passed this year.

The petition, "Reject the FDA's deeming of vapor products as tobacco products," has more than 56,000 supporters. The petition outlines why vapor products and tobacco products are not the same, benefits of vapor products and the benefits of rejecting the guidelines.

Unruh said a majority of the problems the FDA is trying to solve by these guidelines is a lack of education about the products.

Other guidelines include changing product packages to inform buyers of potential risks, and not allowing the terms: "light," "low," "mild," and other terms. There was also new rules put in place for cigars.

While Unruh is upset by the regulation, the American Cancer Association in Sioux Falls is pleased with the changes.

"We were very pleased that the FDA finally took a stand and made the crucial step in saving lives and stopping kids from starting lifelong deadly addictions," said David Benson, South Dakota government relations director for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action network.

According to Benson, the new guidelines are an effort to prevent minors and young adults from smoking e-cigs.

"People are not hearing, as much as we like, the harm and the risk and the unknown of these devices," Benson said. "It makes a clear stand the these devices are not to be used by youth, and adults should take a serious look at the need for it."

ADVERTISEMENT

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette use tripled from 2013 to 2014. The tobacco reports displays that e-cigarette use among high schoolers increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014 or 660,000 students in 2013 to 2 million students. The percent of middle schools using e-cigarettes tripled from 1.1 percent to 3.9 percent or 120,000 to 450,000 students.

"It's going to save lives," Benson said. "We feel that this type of regulation is going to help protect youth."

Murky future of e-cigs

Hardcore Inc., a Mitchell tattoo and piercing shop that also sells hookahs and e-cigs, has never sold to minors, said co-owner David Finnell.

The shop has been in Mitchell for 25 years, and it has sold hookah and vaping products for eight years. In the beginning, Finnell and Andrea Forkert, co-owner of Hardcore Inc., had a hookah lounge, but now they just sell hookah and vapor products.

"We started thinking, 'We're on Main Street. We have to have something for people that are just tourists,' " Finnell said. "That's when we started thinking of way that we could better the community by bringing more people in so we came up with vaping and hookahs."

Hardcore Inc. sells a variety of e-cigs and custom-made e-juices of varying flavors.

Forkert said she smokes e-cigs to help manage her Crohn's Disease. They also have customers who vape because of anxiety, depression and other conditions.

The main concern Hardcore Inc. and its customers will have to endure due to the new regulations is a ban on manufacturing custom e-juice, requiring the business to use a manufacturer and limiting their customer's choices of e-juices.

Forkert and Finnell have different ideas about the future of the vaping industry.

Forkert said she thinks the vaping industry will improve with time because it's an alternative to a tobacco cigarette.

Finnell isn't as optimistic.

"I think it will make the big tobacco companies even richer," Finnell said, "because they'll be the only ones able to afford getting FDA regulated."

David Finnell poses for a profile in front of Hardcore Inc.'s supply of hookahs and e-juices. Finnell and Andrea Forkert share the ownership of the business, which has been in Mitchell for 25 years and has been selling hookahs and electronic cigarettes for eight years. (Katherine Clayton/Republic)
David Finnell poses for a profile in front of Hardcore Inc.'s supply of hookahs and e-juices. Finnell and Andrea Forkert share the ownership of the business, which has been in Mitchell for 25 years and has been selling hookahs and electronic cigarettes for eight years. (Katherine Clayton/Republic)

What To Read Next
Snow removal began Thursday and will continue into the upcoming week, city officials say.
Local governments erase invisible routes hunters use to access public land
Navigator CO2 Ventures is hoping to streamline the application process in Illinois as they add an additional pipeline to the mix.
Members Only
“We had a ton of nominations this year for all the awards,” Davison County Sheriff Steve Harr said of all the employee nominations.