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September 16, 2016

Round 1: FDA Takes Enforcement Action

Five weeks. That’s how long it took for the FDA to send warning letters to vaping vendors who failed “compliance checks,” and sold newly deemed “tobacco products” to minors. The FDA has been ramping up its compliance check operation, and they’re out to catch as many lax retailers as possible.

The new federal regulations require retailers to check the ID of anyone under age 27, and makes sale to people under age 18 illegal. According to the FDA, it has conducted more than 660,000 inspections of tobacco retailers since 2009, issuing nearly 50,000 warning letters, and initiated 8,290 civil money penalty cases.

“During compliance checks at major national retail chains, tobacco specialty stores and online retailers, minors were able to purchase some of these newly regulated tobacco products in a variety of youth-appealing flavors, including bubble gum, cotton candy and gummy bear,” the FDA announced.

“Youth-appealing flavors”…of course. This is how the FDA justifies its regulations that amount to a complete ban of independent vapor products. And FDA Center for Tobacco Products director Mitch Zeller wasted no time using the issue to lobby for public approval of his ban.

“We’re helping protect the health of America’s youth by enforcing restrictions that make it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors – including e-cigarettes, e-liquids and cigars. Retailers play a vital role in keeping harmful and addictive tobacco products out of the hands of children and we urge them to take that responsibility seriously,” said Zeller. “It’s clear from these initial compliance checks that there’s a need for strong federal enforcement of these important youth access restrictions.”

Whatever age verification system you choose, it needs to work.

Warning letters are the first step in penalizing retailers who violate the FDA’s rules. Repeat offenders can be fined, and multiple offenses can earn a “no tobacco sale” order, preventing the retailer from selling any tobacco product.

The list of 55 violators includes many vapor businesses, but also gas stations, convenience stores, and pharmacies, including many national chains.

All of the vapor business violations appear to be online sales.

Businesses need to understand that the FDA will use these results to justify further regulations. Whatever age verification system you choose, it needs to work. Failing to prevent sales to minors will have an effect on the whole industry’s future.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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John SongerJim McDonaldRoy StephensNotquiterightMirza Recent comment authors
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Michael Abrams
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Michael Abrams

Would be interesting to see how many passed the test, so we can benchmark for improvement that will follow. Or, is that not even measured? Do we know how many of the 55 were vape shops and US based online vape shops?

Also, did they try to buy cigs, cigars, dip, or even patches and nic gum? Need to keep it fair, which they have shown no signs of.

I recall the deeming regs affected cigars and other tobacco, but cigs were grandfathered.

John Songer
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John Songer

Pretty much any form of nicotine EXCEPT e cigs is grandfathered or exempt completely from the regs. Flavored cigars, flavored nic gum and lozenges (which by the way is stated to being made fully exempt from any regulations ever) will remain on market while they continue to push for a ecig flavor ban. FDA needs to turn tobacco back over to the agency partially created to regulate it. FDA needs regulations upon as they currently can say or do whatever they wish without answering to anyone. The president has no say over FDA even currently. Maybe, and it’s a huge… Read more »

Mirza
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Mirza

Hypocrites. In the days of CETA TTIP they want to ban an flavors that “aim” youth. How many cigarettes are aiming women and youth with their advertisement in the vicinity of Burger King, McCrap and KFCs, how many advertisiments for Heineken or other beer on sport events aiming kids and youth on bus stations etc. I’m speaking for EU. Even this is has nothing direct with USA flavor ban and EU the pattern is similar and can I say, universal. They tone the melody being played. When they want they have it. Money does make difference and they have a… Read more »

John Songer
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John Songer

Don’t forget Nicorette fruit and candy flavored lozenges that are in a Easy Open pop top container (even says easy open on it). If kids can open a child proof twist top, can’t they open a pop open top?

Notquiteright
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Notquiteright

“The new federal regulations require retailers to check the ID of anyone
under age 27, and makes sale to people under age 18 illegal.”

The ID requirement is only for direct, face-to-face sales. The exception to requiring photo ID is §1140.16(c)(2)(i). It’s the same exception provided to online tobacco sales.

Age verification is required for online sales, photo ID is not required for online sales.

https://www.electronicverificationsystems.com/blog/understanding-the-age-verification-requirements-of-the-fda-deeming-rule

Roy Stephens
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Roy Stephens

in my opinion any vendor that was or is sell to underaged kids should be shut down and I am an advocate for vaping, We don’t need to give the FDA and ammunition in the attempts to stop vaping. And certainly do not wish to add any form of underage nicotine addiction.

John Songer
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John Songer

The Royal College Of Physicians has already proven nicotine, in actual nontobacco form is about as addictive as caffeine with extremely similar withdrawal symptoms. Its the other toxins in the tobacco combined with the nicotine that is so addictive.

John Songer
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John Songer

So even if a kid steals dad’s ID and Credit Card you will be in trouble……..at no time can the kid be in trouble. And send questions in? Well I did and all FDA replied with was a comment saying they would not respond to the questions as the regulations are clearly written and understandable by most if not all.

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