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Thoughts From Vape Stores

American vape storeowners were interviewed on their thoughts about government regulations.

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American vape storeowners were interviewed on their thoughts about government regulations – and some of the responses are quite extraordinary. The academics from Georgia State University claim to have interviewed 37 individuals, back in 2015, but have only just published the study. The storeowners gave their opinions on subjects like bottle caps, flavours and the impact of vape expos and free samples.

Georgia State University is behind a number of electronic cigarette/vaping studies such as “Trust In E-Cigarette Safety Varies”, “Perception Of E-Cigarette Harm Growing”, and “College Educated More Likely to Use E-Cigs to Quit Cigarettes” - leading to papers like the NY Times writing articles such as “E-Cigarettes Can't Shake Their Reputation as a Menace”.

Now, published this month in Health Education Research, is the paper titled “‘No, the government doesn’t need to, it’s already self-regulated’: a qualitative study among vape shop operators on perceptions of electronic vapour product regulation”. In it, they conducted 37 in-person interviews of vape shop owners from nine different US cities.

The researchers noted the differences between stores: “The products offered at any particular vape shop can vary widely. Some vape shops sell hardware and e-liquids supplied by manufacturers, some manufacture their own equipment and/or e-liquids sold in their shops, and others sell a combination of products purchased from wholesalers and custom products they manufacture.”

The team released the study in the belief that it is still valid as part of the debate, given the shifting of the deeming rule date and that several states are implementing their own legislation on “how and where [personal vapourisers] can be sold or used”. They say: “The findings from this study can offer insight into the acceptability of the proposed regulations, as well as identify potential barriers to their effective implementation.”

Stores were visited in:

  • Atlanta (GA),
  • Chicago (IL),
  • Henderson (NV),
  • Oklahoma City (OK),
  • Phoenix (AZ),
  • San Jose (CA),
  • Seattle (WA),
  • Thousand Oaks (CA)
  • Ventura (CA)

Quotes they obtained included: "The FDA is right now considering deeming regulations that would basically put the vape industry out of business by requiring SKUs [stock keeping unit] for anything manufactured after 2007. That includes flavour. I’ve got 50 flavours, average SKU would cost me $330, 000, times 50.” (ID# 26; > 45 years old; Male)

They discovered that most store owners agreed that ingredients should be listed on bottles, which means that surprisingly some didn’t – although this was down to “fearing a loss of trade secrets that other businesses would want to replicate.”

There was more uniformity on the subject of being able to give away free samples. Most saw it as a good marketing tool that helped regular vapers and new ex-smokers to identify a juice they could vape.

Some gave stunning answers and supported the banning of free samples: “Yes, I like that idea. When the vape summit is here and those assholes come in here, they give everything away and the businesses die, almost die, because nobody needs anything because they got a six-pack of juice, must be nice to be rich and give that much product away.” (ID#13; 20–45 years old; Male).

Another said it was a problem, but it didn’t need a law made: “We don’t give free samples, and we go to these shows and these guys are giving out all these free samples. That’s bad for business. To me, that’s poor marketing, but it’s not something, there shouldn’t be a government regulation against it.” (ID# 26; >45 years old; Male).

All storeowners came together on the subject of banning flavours – “Absolutely not. We’re targeting people’s taste buds, not kids with bubble gum flavouring. If that was the deal, then flavoured condoms and flavoured alcohol shouldn’t be sold either.”

As a consequence, they all fell in with the notion that regulation wasn’t needed because the industry already did a pretty good job on self-regulation. That said, the conclusion was that “the findings suggest that these early entrepreneurs in the vape shop industry will accept, and willingly comply, with federal and state/local regulations if they perceive these requirements as non- detrimental to their profit margins and in line with their business plan to promote safe EVPs and to eliminate competitors marketing low-quality products.”

Photo Credit:

  • Images from Wikipedia

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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