Signed into law in 2020, Proposition 31 banned the sale of flavoured tobacco and vaping products. However, despite their aim to reduce tobacco harm, smoking cessation experts have long argued that such bans are ineffective, leading consumers to seek alternative channels like overseas purchases or the black market. Reports from California support this claim, revealing a surge in online shopping for flavoured cigarettes and vapes after the law went into effect.

In fact, a study published in the journal Tobacco Control on November 7th, highlighted a significant increase in online shopping queries, with a 194% rise for cigarettes and a 162% spike for vaping products, surpassing anticipated levels.

Blackmarkets always thrive through bans

Simultaneously, the blackmarket has thrived, posing challenges to local authorities as well as the $7 billion U.S. vaping market, in regulating the influx of unauthorized flavoured vaping products. Proposition 31 has once again raised questions about the effectiveness of flavour bans and their ability to achieve harm reduction objectives in the complex landscape of tobacco consumption.

Despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refusing entry to a record number of shipments—374 in 2023 compared to 118 in 2022—11,500, countless new vaping products are currently available in U.S. stores, a 27% increase from 9,000 products in June. The surge is primarily in disposable e-cigarettes, generating $3.2 billion in sales during the first 11 months of 2023.

The FDA struggles to keep up

The FDA has approved only a few e-cigarettes for adult smokers, which automatically categorized all others as illegal. However, the chaotic state of the market is evident as companies continually introduce new products, often with slight variations enough to circumvent import bans. In fact, the rise in vaping products persists despite a record number of products detained at U.S. ports.

The LA Times recently reported that in December, the FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection disclosed the seizure of over 1.4 million illegal e-cigarettes, valued at $18 million, at Los Angeles International Airport. However, industry shipping tactics, such as mislabeling shipments, challenge effective import restrictions. For instance, illegal vapes have been disguised as items like shoes and toys, requiring officials to individually verify the contents of over two dozen containers.

The PMTA process has been a general failure

Despite the FDA’s efforts to collaborate with customs officials and send warning letters to U.S. stores selling unauthorized products, the agency faces challenges in penalizing foreign companies directly. Additionally, the FDA is still struggling to complete the lengthy PMTA process, further complicating regulatory efforts.

The delays have prompted calls for alternative approaches, such as making decisions about entire classes of e-cigarettes instead of reviewing individual products, to adapt to the evolving market landscape. Certain health entities are also urging the FDA to consider banning all flavoured disposable vapes, which are widely used by underage teens. However, tobacco harm reduction experts highlight that these products also present an easy entry point into vaping to smokers considering the switch in order to reduce harm or quit smoking.

THR Experts Condemn The WHO’s Proposed Vape Flavour Ban – Vaping Post

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4 months ago

America learned NOTHING from Prohibition! By banning flavors they have left the public to their own devices. People may start mixing in other ingredients, such as, essential oils, which SHOULD NOT be vaped! This is equivalent to making illegal gin in a radiator, which we all know now caused blindness. While trying to protect us, the bans are making it MORE dangerous. I was a smoker for 45 years. I have been vaping for the last 5 years. My Cardiologist actually celebrated me for making the change from cigarettes to vape! I understand that we don’t want our young people to vape, but isn’t that the same thing as having an age restriction on buying cigarettes? And this restriction of mail order vape, who are these kids with credit cards that their parents don’t monitor? I mean, REALLY? There are people who just let their kids charge whatever they want and don’t even see what it was for? In trying to save young people, the bans have hurt ME. I’m 66 years old. This is nonsense. I’m having a really hard time understanding the logic of our representatives who don’t know what they are talking about. Also, all this talk about how vape is worse than cigarettes, well, that is all information sent out from the major tobacco outlets, they don’t want anyone to muscle in on their territory. And gee, who has the money and power and government “friends” to squash the vape industry? Gee, who do you think? If you don’t want your young people to vape, try spending some time with them, monitor their spending habits, I mean, come on, where is the money coming from. Hey, I’ve been able to buy cigarettes since I was 16, but I think it’s tougher now. Why don’t people see what I see?

4 months ago

Bans DO NOT WORK! No matter what it is! There’s a ban on weed, heroin, murder & a thousand other things, how’s that going!?!?