Will 2016 Bring a Thriving Black Market for Vapers?
It’s only a matter of time now before the FDA implements their new regulations for vapor products and the results could be much worse than anticipated. According to a recent report in The Daily Caller, the FDA’s actions could lead to a sudden new black market in the United States, where vapers can get the tobacco-free products they need under the table. Many fear it could also lead to a sudden spike in smoking rates.
The speculation stems from a survey of around 20,000 vapers conducted by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA). The organization surveyed participants to create a representative sample of around two million American vapers. The participants were presented with three different FDA regulation scenarios and asked how they would respond.
In the first scenario, participants were asked to assume that the FDA issued a total prohibition on vapor product sales. The response was truly unsettling. Over a fifth of former smokers said they would go back to using cigarettes. Around half of vapers who still occasionally use tobacco said they would start smoking more. More than 90 percent of participants admitted they would try to continue vaping by sourcing supplies from overseas, through black market channels, or by homemade products.
In a second scenario, CASAA told participants that all vapor products would be banned except for a select few “closed-system cigalikes” in only tobacco and menthol flavors. They would be priced higher than they are in the current market. If this happened, over a fifth of former smokers said they would start smoking again. Those who still smoke occasionally said they would smoke more. Nine out of ten vapers said they would ignore the law by looking for their preferred vaping products through black market methods.
In a final scenario, participants were told that the FDA would still allow all types of vapor devices to be legally sold, but eliquid would be limited to only tobacco and menthol flavors. The results make it obvious that flavors matter. Around 14 percent of former smokers said they would start smoking again. A third of vapers who still occasionally smoke said they would use tobacco more. And 90 percent of participants said they would still seek out their preferred vapor flavors through alternative methods such as black market purchases, overseas imports, or homemade eliquids.
The results of this survey highlight just how much is at stake with the FDA’s involvement in the vapor industry. Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, said the FDA is ignoring the potential consequences and moving forward undeterred. “Despite being statutorily required to study the black market consequences of new regulations, the FDA has yet to mutter a single word about this subject. The agency cannot honestly claim to be ignorant of the potentially multi-billion dollar underground market that the deeming regulation would create.”
Do you think the FDA’s new regulations will spark a sudden black market for vapor products? What would you do if you couldn’t legally purchase your favorite vapes? Would you seek them out elsewhere or go back to smoking?
Photo via Flickr user TBEC Review