Vape Shop Owners/Managers' Opinions About FDA Regulation of E-Cigarettes.Nicotine Tob Res. 2021 02 16; 23(3):535-542.NT
In the United States, prominent sources of vaping products are specialty vape shops, which are subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. This study interviewed vape shop owners/managers to assess: (1) reasons for entering into or engaging in vape shop retail; (2) personnel training, particularly with regard to FDA and state regulations; and (3) how existing regulations are perceived and the anticipated impact of future regulation.
AIMS AND METHODS
The current study involved phone-based semi-structured interviews of 45 vape shop owners/managers in six metropolitan statistical areas (Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, San Diego, and Seattle) during Summer 2018 as FDA regulations regarding minimum age verification, bans on product sampling, and health warnings (among others) were first being implemented.
Vape shop owners/managers reported: (1) entering the industry with positive intentions for their customers, (2) training their personnel to adhere to regulations and provide good customer service, and (3) significant concerns about the impact of FDA regulations. With regard to the latter, participants reported mistrust of the intentions of the FDA regulations, financial implications of the regulations (particularly for small businesses), difficulty understanding and interpreting the regulations, insufficient evidence to support the regulations, negative impact on customer service, negative impact on product offerings and product innovation/advancement, and negative implications of flavor bans and/or restrictions on sale of flavors.
These findings indicate the complexities in implementing tobacco regulations, particularly from the perspective of the vape shop industry. Current findings should inform future regulatory actions and efforts to assess compliance with regulations.
Current and impending FDA regulation of vaping products present a critical period for examining regulatory impact on the vape shop industry. Current results indicated that many vape shop owners/managers reporting positive intentions for engaging in the vaping product industry and in training vape shop personnel to adhere to regulations. However, the majority reported concerns about FDA regulation and other state/local regulations that could have negative implications for their industry. Particular concerns include difficulty understanding the regulations due to complexity, vagueness, and changes in language and/or interpretation over time. These issues have implications for compliance that must be addressed.