York County vaping stores welcome stricter FDA regulations
When he helped open the S.S. Vape off Loucks Road, district manager Jason Goins knew federal regulations wouldn't be far behind.
So he became proactive. He doesn't sell to anyone under 18, doesn't give out free samples and includes health warnings on the products he sells.
"We run a clean shop and make sure we are ready for any FDA changes," he said. "If you're going to run a business like this, you have to anticipate this."
Since bursting into the U.S. market in the late 2000s, products like e-cigarettes and vape accessories have become popular among many York County residents looking to stop smoking.
The sale of e-cigarettes and vape products remained largely unregulated, but that could soon change as officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration look to tighten control.
It's a change welcomed by many York County vape shops looking to run and expand legitimate businesses.
"If you're a smart business, you include this in your business model," Goins said.
S.S. Vape, in West Manchester, has nearly a dozen locations between York County and Maryland and plans to open more shops within the next two years.
What it is: Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor from a nicotine-infused juice that is "smoked" through an electronic cigarette.
Goins said vaping helped him quit smoking, and the shop is helping many York County residents do the same.
Some of the regulations, which were introduced last year, include reviewing new tobacco products for approval by the FDA, stopping the selling of products to minors and include health warning labels on certain products.
The FDA currently regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.
The extended provisions are part of the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by the President Barack Obama in 2009.
Members of the American Vaping Association, a national group promoting vape as a way to quit smoking, have been opposed to the regulations, saying FDA regulators "jumped the gun" with the changes, according to a press release.
Local reaction: J.R. Russell, co-owner of One Step Up in West Manchester Township, said regulations are a good thing for those trying to run legitimate vaping businesses.
But he hopes the FDA does it the right way, by not harboring too many controls over vape-business owners.
"When there is too much restriction, it will drive the products underground, which will hurt legitimate businesses," he said.
Russell has converted his shop, which previously operated as a smoke accessory store, into a full vape store. Since the conversion, he said he's seen about a half-dozen vape shops open around him.
For the new shops opening up, he says the regulations might make it harder for those business owners to get started.
"If you don't put the time into your business, it will fail," Russell said.
Russell hopes the regulations will help tackle the selling of vape products online, which he finds are not always regulated.
"That's where you find the dark side of vaping," he said. "That's where the enforcement needs to be."
Russell is also planning to expand his enterprise in the next year.
Dr. Karen Rizzo, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said the organization has long been in favor of federal regulations for vape and e-cigarette products.
"While e-cigarettes can help someone stop smoking, it can also have the opposite effect," she said.
The medical society has been watching vaping and e-cigarettes grow in popularity over the last five years. Rizzo said that in that growth, a lot of the marketing has been shifted to teenagers interested in experimenting .
"From our perspective,the more its regulated, the more information will spread about potential consequences of tobacco," she said.
As of July, the proposed FDA regulations have not gone into effect.
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