Do you vape? If you do, there’s an important deadline coming up on September 9 – and if you haven’t already started preparing, now is the time.
Are you left scratching your head after reading that first paragraph? If you have no idea what deadline is coming up or how it’s going to affect the vaping industry, this article is for you. We’re going to explain the upcoming PMTA deadline and describe exactly what you should be doing right now to prepare.
FDA Vaping Regulations: A Brief History
Ever since e-cigarettes and e-liquids first appeared in the United States, the FDA has attempted to exert regulatory control over the industry. The agency’s first attempt at vaping regulations ended in failure. In the late 2000s, the FDA began to seize incoming shipments of e-cigarettes entering the United States, saying that vaping products were unregulated drug delivery devices being sold without approval.
The vaping industry sued the FDA. The district and appeals courts involved in the lawsuit both ultimately decided in favor of the vaping industry, ruling that, as long as sellers didn’t claim that e-cigarettes could be used for quitting smoking, the FDA could only regulate those products as tobacco products – not as drug delivery devices.
The FDA finally announced its intention to regulate vaping products as tobacco products in 2016. Subjecting vaping products to the same legal requirements as tobacco products meant that every vaping product on the market had to comply with the U.S. Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which said that, after 2007, all tobacco products must obtain FDA approval before entering the market.
No vaping product being sold today was on the market before 2007. Therefore, every vaping product is a “new tobacco product” that requires FDA approval.
What Is the Vaping PMTA Deadline?
We always knew that this day would come; it was just a matter of when. The vaping industry’s deadline for FDA compliance has been moved from August 2018 to August 2022 before being moved forward to May 2020 and finally pushed back to September 2020. At the time of writing, it appears that September 9, 2020 will be the final compliance date.
To start the process of FDA compliance, the manufacturer of a vaping product must submit an application showing the FDA that the product is beneficial to public health compared to the tobacco products that are already on the market. It costs nothing to file a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA), but the cost of gathering the required data for the application can exceed $100,000. Every e-liquid flavor, every nicotine strength of every flavor, every vaping device, every tank and every coil counts as a “new tobacco product” and requires a PMTA.
What Happens to the Vaping Industry on September 9?
When the PMTA deadline arrives, two things will happen.
- Many e-liquid makers have the necessary funds to submit PMTAs for some or all of their products. Timely submission of a PMTA means that a product can remain on the market for another year while the FDA processes the application. If the FDA gets behind on processing applications, it’s possible that the grace period will be extended.
- Many other e-liquid makers do not have the funds and are not planning to submit PMTAs. Those companies are required to pull their products from the market on September 9, although that may not happen all at once. Some companies may just continue what they’re doing now until they hear from the FDA.
What Does the PMTA Deadline Mean for Vapers?
The one certain thing is that, after September 9, there will be fewer vaping devices, tanks, coils and e-liquids on the market than there are today. Since most companies in the vaping industry aren’t talking about their plans for the PMTA deadline, it’s impossible to say exactly which products will and won’t be available. With that in mind, here’s how you need to prepare.
Stock Up on Your Favorite Vape Juice Flavors Now
Unless your favorite vape juice brands have already announced that they’re ready for the PMTA deadline, you shouldn’t assume that those brands’ products will still be around after September 9. There will definitely still be e-liquid available to buy after the PMTA deadline – but if you have a favorite brand or flavor and can’t bear to be without it, you should start stocking up right now.
Get a Vape Mod With Removable Batteries
It’s unknown which of the vaping hardware manufacturers – almost all of which are in China – have submitted PMTAs for their products or which products they’ve applied for permission to continue selling in the United States. Your best bet is to choose a vape mod with removable batteries and buy it right away. A mod with removable batteries can conceivably last for years because you can simply swap out the batteries when they stop working correctly. A mod with a permanent battery, on the other hand, is much more difficult to repair. The FDA doesn’t regulate batteries, so you can buy them freely.
Buy a Rebuildable Atomizer
It’s also unknown which vape tanks and coils will get through the PMTA process. If you have a favorite vape tank and want to ensure that you can continue using it, you should stock up on coils now. In the long run, though, it’s even better to grab a rebuildable atomizer and learn how to build your own coils. The FDA can regulate tanks and coils, but it can’t regulate wire and cotton – just like it can’t regulate batteries. Regardless of how FDA regulation shapes the future of the American vaping industry, you won’t ever have trouble finding coil building supplies.
Consider Learning How to Make Your Own E-Liquid
As mentioned above, you will definitely still be able to buy e-liquid after September 9. Many e-liquid companies have already submitted – or are about to submit – PMTAs for their products. They’ll be able to continue selling their products for at least another year, and it seems likely that many or all of those products will eventually receive full FDA approval.
Just in case those products don’t receive FDA approval, though, it’s a good idea to start learning how to make your own e-liquid now. You’re free to buy vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and flavorings. Unless something changes from a legal standpoint, you’re also free to buy liquid nicotine if you’re an adult. As of right now, there’s nothing preventing you from making your own vape juice.