The FDA now classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products and the liquid that goes into the devices will be regulated. Some fear it’ll mean the end of the small, privately-owned vape shops that have cropped up around Iowa.
Sam Salaymeh runs vape shops in Sioux City and Omaha and says he and other store owners are still attempting to grasp the new regulations. “We’re trying to fight but we’re trying to orient ourselves and understand all of these regulations and how to navigate,” Salaymeh says. “I have at least one to challenge this. There are a lot of advocacy groups trying to educate, raise awareness and rally support.”
While the feds claim there are no complete studies on the dangers of vaping, Salaymeh says there’s a large report out from the Royal College of Physicians in London which touts the many benefits. “They talk about its efficacy for people to switch from smoking to vaping,” he says. “They talk about the issue that smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of death. They talk about how electronic nicotine delivery systems are a better way to get the nicotine that people are addicted to without getting all of the other stuff that comes with tobacco.”
Salaymeh says vaping has helped thousands of people kick the cigarette habit. He says the difference between vaping and smoking is like comparing bicycles to the space shuttle. “These devices are at least 95% safer than traditional cigarettes,” Salaymeh says. “This is where this gets quite interesting. From a public health perspective, if anything on Earth has ever come up as something that reduces harm by 95%, all politicians will be applauding it and hailing it as the best thing since sliced bread.”
The new rules take effect in 90 days. They prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes in vending machines and prevent owners from offering free samples to customers. The sale of e-cigs will also be banned to anyone under 18, while the makers of the devices will be required to register with the FDA, provide a list of ingredients and apply for permission to sell them.
Salaymeh says the new rules will eliminate all small vape shops and hand the industry over to big tobacco companies.