Indiana vape law challenged – FBI investigating
Vapers in Indiana were outraged recently as a new state law looked set to force almost all e-liquids off the market. State legislators had ruled that any liquid vendor who wanted their products to be sold in Indiana had to sign a contract with an approved security company.
The problem was that the standards for the security company appeared to have been written specifically for one company, Mulhaupt’s Inc. of Lafayette, Indiana. In fact it appears that no other security firm anywhere in the USA meets the standards. Since the law was passed Mulhaupt’s have only accepted six applications out of several hundred, which restricts Indiana vapers to five brands – one of the approved ones doesn’t actually make e-liquid yet.
Predictably, most of the industry was as outraged as vapers themselves. A Florida-based company, GoodCat, attempted to sign up with Mulhaupt’s but was rejected; they then put together an equivalent security package by contracting with multiple Florida agencies, but were rejected by Indiana’s licensing authority. At that point they lost their temper and went to court. Interestingly, the six licensed vendors intervened on the side of the state authorities.
Last Thursday a federal court judge ruled that the law violated the right to interstate commerce, and granted GoodCat an injunction that lets them sell in Indiana. That sets a precedent for other liquid makers to follow, weakening the law. What’s most interesting, though, is that Indiana vape shops testified to the hearing that the licensed manufacturers had increased their prices by up to 44% once the law barred their competition. As a result the FBI are now investigating whether collusion between these vendors, Mulhaupt’s and legislators influenced the new law.
Post-Brexit cull of EU rules could include TPD
British tabloid The Sun reported on Wednesday that the government is planning a huge clear-out of EU regulations once the UK reclaims its independence – and the hated Tobacco Products Directive is in the firing line.
According to the report, a source in the Department of Health told The Sun that the TPD is an area the government will “consider carefully as part of the process of leaving the EU.” That’s likely to upset anti-smoking groups like ASH, who have also publicly supported the EU’s assault on vapers, but many more sober voices have already raised doubts about its effectiveness. Even pro-EU former prime minister David Cameron criticised the TPD ban on packs of less than 20 cigarettes, stating that he wasn’t sure why the EU wanted to make smokers buy more cigarettes.
The Sun mainly focused on the ban on menthol cigarettes, which is also part of the TPD, but the sections that affect e-cigarettes are probably more likely to be scrapped. With the UK’s medical establishment now broadly supportive of vaping, laws that ban the most effective products aren’t likely to find many defenders.
Omani black market sounds a warning note for the FDA
While the FDA’s Mitch Zeller doesn’t believe harsh new restrictions on US vapers will lead to a black market, evidence from elsewhere strongly suggests he’s wrong. The conservative Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman has strict laws (fr) against importing any form of vapour product, with offenders fined up to 500 Omani Rials (€1,150 or £985). Similar penalties apply to anyone caught selling them inside the country. Despite this, the Times of Oman reported on Wednesday that a black market in e-cigarettes and liquid is thriving across the sultanate.
The Omani government introduced the ban in December 2015, but it’s had little effect on the number of vapers. Strictly enforced bans on vaping gear are common in the Middle East, although cigarettes are widely available and can be smoked almost anywhere. Oman is actually one of the more liberal countries – the Royal Oman Police confirm that possession or use of e-cigarettes is legal despite the ban on imports or sales. Even so, the existence of such an effective black market in a small, relatively authoritarian country suggests that US vapers will have no trouble establishing one.
New South Wales proposes new restrictions
Australia is another country with a lively black market, this time in nicotine-containing liquids, thanks to its draconian anti-vaping laws. Now New South Wales is considering tightening the rules even more to ban vaping in all public places. The move aims to standardise the state’s rules with those in Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra). It would effectively ban vaping anywhere smoking is banned. Harm reduction experts, including Dr Attila Dank and Professor Colin Mendelsohn, immediately spoke out against the proposals.