Last Friday marked the closing of Florida Electronic Cigarette and E-Liquid Company, Totally Wicked, due to the FDA. Could this be, as Totally Wicked says, a death knell for all small vape shops in the US?
Totally Wicked is a British-born company with shops only in the EU until 2008 when it became one of the first vape shops to plant a flag on US soil. Their warning to other small, independently-owned shops that their fate is not unique. Like many vape shop owners and operators, they simply cannot afford the costs associated with completing the Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) necessary to keep their shop open past 2018.
By closing vape device and e-liquid shops, Totally Wicked feels that the FDA bouys the tobacco industry instead of supporting one that offers a safe alternative to the harmful effects of smoking conventional cigarettes. This is not the first time that Totally Wicked has come up against the FDA. In 2010, the agency seized goods from the shop and Totally Wicked responded by challenging them.
"If the FDA truly wanted smokers to quit, then it would certainly craft regulations that promote smoking cessation, rather than regulations that block or impede smoking cessation," says Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health. Dr. Siegel has 25 years experience in the tobacco control sector under his belt and continues to blog about tobacco laws and regulations in the United States.
"The FDA may want Americans to continue smoking; we do not", stated the spokesperson for Totally Wicked. They now have a plan in place to make their products even more accessible than before. "We intend to offer all our products at even more affordable prices, ensuring that when the FDA does shut us down, as many people as possible will have benefited from a product that Public Health England classifies as a minimum of 95% safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes."
For Totally Wicked and other shops like it, there may still be hope. Several lawmakers, such asSenator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, are working to stop the agency from acting out its "destructive policies", whilst promoting different regulations for vaping products, than those for tobacco products. He points out, as Dr. Siegel does, that vaping products "contain no tobacco". Without a significant policy change, however, The Vaping Post and thousands of other vape shops will be forced to close its doors in 2018 when the PMTA grace period ends.