e Liquid artisans at risk? – Today over on the Ashtray Blog, a site operated and owned by James Dunworth, a major article was published concerning predictions on the state of the ecigarette industry in 2013. Ten (10) prominent vaping ‘bloggers’ * offered varied opinions on what they believed were coming in the new year. One prediction, offered by more than one of the participates centered on regulations that would have a direct impact on the companies that make, bottle, and sell the eLiquids we’ve come to love and depend on.
Basically, they believe that the FDA will lay out new rules and regulations that will abolish bottled eLiquid, which would in turn put all the current brands of e Liquid either out of business or greatly hampered by forcing them to offer their eLiquids in prefilled cartomizers. Further regulations would force eLiquid brands to become certified, licensed, and inspected to make sure they were producing e Liquid in proper and safe conditions, in clean rooms and such.
e Liquid artisans.
If, or when, the FDA and their equivalents in other countries, decide to move on the e-Cigarette industry I’m sure several of the predictions put forth by the 10 bloggers will come true, but if the predictions concerning eLiquids become a reality it could very well be a major ‘change for the worse‘ for eLiquid companies and Vapers alike.
e Liquid artisans.
Personally, I just don’t see the banning of bottled e Liquid as being a viable option. But then again I’m not a politician nor do I think like one, so who knows what goes on in their tiny little brains. Sure, some regulation on eLiquid would be welcome, but banning the sale of bottled eLiquid, or forcing the companies to try and figure out how many ‘510’ or ‘808’ cartomizers or various ‘tanks’ to fill with each flavor and each nicotine strength of eLiquid would be a ridiculous overreaction to the marketplace. Because it would be such a complicated, expensive, and downright impossible to properly execute I can’t take the idea seriously. If
e Liquid artisans it does come to pass, well…. let’s talk about it then.
Before I continue let me say that I believe that any action taken by the FDA is a 50/50 proposition at best. I believe this because the FDA themselves don’t seem overly eager to tackle eCigarettes at this juncture. All the noise you hear out there isn’t coming from the government, it’s coming from activists.
You know about activists; people who have so little in their own life that they feel justified in interfering in your life by forcing the ‘powers that be‘ to either make you do something you don’t want to do, or stop you from doing something you do want to do. That, my friend, is the very definition of an activist.
As of yet no one is protesting outside the FDA’s government offices holding signs with clever little sayings on them like “No No, We Won’t Vape!” or “Stop eCigarettes! The Devils Device!”, or maybe even “eCigarettes Kill“, and there is no onslaught of scientists and doctors publishing against eCigarettes. (although there are plenty of scientists and doctors publishing in favor of them) But if for some reason the FDA does indeed act, then what I write below becomes pertinent to the argument. If they do not act
e Liquid artisans, well… nevermind.
Clean Rooms and Other Methods to Ensure Safety
I maintain that I find it hard to believe that the only way the FDA will allow e Liquid to be sold are through prefilled cartomizers, so I’m not going to address that aspect of it very much. If and when that happens I’ll have plenty to say about it. Instead, the possibility of certifying, licensing, and inspecting of eLiquid companies would be the more likely scenario, so let’s stay in this area for now.
If the FDA placed strict rules and regulations on how a company can manufacture and distribute eLiquid it could turn out to be a great boon to many eLiquid companies while the majority of e Liquid creators might well be forced out of business. The bottom line effect could be good for the industry as long as the right eLiquid companies make the cut. And by “right” I mean those that are producing safe to consume liquids.
All of us want to believe that the eJuice we consume on a daily basis is safe to use. We all want to believe that the juice is mixed, or “cooked” with sterilized equipment, in a sterile environment, and bottled in sterilized bottles…and even sealed with a shrink-wrap neckband. Sadly, not all eLiquid brands are doing that. Some can’t afford it, some don’t care.
You see, some eLiquid companies are producing their e liquid in apartment kitchens, or basements, or even bathrooms. And while there is no way to prove otherwise, when Spinfuel agrees to review a brand of eLiquid we ask them in their interview portion of the review to tell us where and how they make the product and how they ensure safety to the consumer. They could lie to us and tell us what they think we want to hear and there isn’t much we can do about it…yet. Perhaps its time to ask the companies we review to supply photographs or shoot videos of their clean room, bottling room, and so on
e Liquid artisans.
Over the many months of doing massively in-depth reviews and interviews with the owners of the e Liquid companies we’ve come to understand some of the subtle, and not so subtle, nuances that can be gleaned from the company we’re reviewing, either in the way they address something, or in the way the eLiquid is shipped. Because of that we’ve cancelled just as many reviews/interviews than we’ve actually published.
Sometimes you can just tell the company behind the eLiquid you’re holding is, ah, winging it. Just last week we were approached by an eLiquid maker who wanted to have their eJuice reviewed. When we sent them the “Guidelines For Submission” PDF, they changed their minds. The week prior we were approached by an eLiquid company that agreed to all the guidelines but would only submit the eLiquids if we could promise a great review. Before that we received several bottles of eLiquids from a company that seemed to simply toss several bottles into a box and shipped it (they leaked terribly). When we asked if this shipping method was the same for their customers they replied that it was…we shipped the bottles back. If an eLiquid company does appear in Spinfuel in one of our in-depth reviews there are certain aspects you can take for granted.
We are pretty comfortable that the brands that have been published in Spinfuel are practicing what they tell us. Some companies, such as Mountain Oak Vapors, Ginger’s eJuice, Virgin Vapors, Alice in Vapeland, The Plume Room, FanceeJuice and of course Johnson Creek and Totally Wicked are in fact producing their eLiquids in sterile environments and are producing consistently safe eLiquids, and we know this through personal experience and knowing the companies more intimately than most of their customers. We trust that the same is true for other brands we’ve reviewed but admittedly we do not know those companies as intimately as we do the ones I’ve mentioned, although they too are vetted as well as we can
e Liquid artisans.
Certify, License, Inspect (CLI)
We should welcome some regulations under certain circumstances. For instance, “if” those regulations restrict themselves to just certifying, licensing, and the occasional inspection of those companies, that would be fine. It’s easy enough to do, just put them under the same umbrella as food establishments and have the health inspectors inspect the eLiquid companies the same way they do the establishments that make and sell food.
If rules and regulations of this nature were to go into effect I believe the cost to the eLiquid companies would be minimal and we would not necessarily see a drastic jump in eLiquid prices. Since the companies we already trust are working under sterile conditions anyway then the only additional costs would be the cost of becoming certified and licensed, and that shouldn’t be overly expensive.
The bottom-line effect on making e Liquid companies become certified and licensed, and submit to the occasional inspection like the Subway Sandwich shop down the street could chase away the ones that are making eLiquids in their kitchen sinks while clearing the field for eLiquid companies that are consistently producing safe to consume products. This would be good for all of us
e Liquid artisans.
The Tax Man Cometh
Of course, in order to pay for inspections,
e Liquid artisans certifications and licensing the government would most probably tax eLiquids. But, if the government decided to apply the same taxes on eLiquids that they apply to tobacco than we would all see the price of eLiquid “necessarily skyrocket”, and that wouldn’t be such a great thing. Once the government does begin taxing a new source of revenue they do not like to stop, and the government we are saddled with today (and the next four years) is a “big government” government, so the taxes would automatically start off hefty and only get larger and larger. That being the case we’re probably looking at the cost to the consumer to climb to an average price for a 15ML bottle to be $25 and 30ML bottles to be priced at $45-$55 dollars. This would put the price of vaping way too high for many people, myself included. (Granted, my guesstimates are just that, guesses)
The fact is Vapers vape much more than smokers smoke. As for how much more I can only speak for myself, but I vape constantly, especially at work. If I smoked cigarettes as often as I vape it would probably surpass 4 packs a day.
Truthfully speaking I vape as much as I do because vaping is 99.99% safer than smoking cigarettes. I don’t worry about vaping, I know that it isn’t going to cause lung cancer, heart disease, or anything else so I vape without fear which turns into vaping from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. Imagine the cost of vaping if it were taxed as much as tobacco cigarettes.
The easiest way for the government to get into the taxing of e Liquid is to begin to refer to any taxes on any aspect of eCigarettes as ‘Sin’ taxes. Because there is such an effort going on today to equate vaping with smoking (by the activists) the leap to sin taxes is an easy one for the government to make.
Once the FDA begins to meddle in the affairs of Vapers and the companies behind them that create products for vaping the outlook grows pretty dark. Big government will suck not only the money out of the industry but the fun and pleasure of vaping will be sucked out with it.
If what I say comes true, if the government doesn’t ban the sale of e Liquid in bottles but instead sees it as an opportunity to take more of our hard earned money, then the next step will be the proliferation of back alley eLiquids. That means that instead of buying a 30ML bottle of safe eLiquid at $49.99 (just a guess here) many people will seek out those that can “brew” eLiquids and sell it out of their cars, or in crowded places just like meth dealers.
And of course because there are rules and regulations in this new reality there will have to be penalties against those that don’t follow the rules. Get caught selling ‘Caramel Apple’ out of the trunk of your car could mean a fine or a prison sentence. Get caught buying a bottle of Cinnamon Swirl from a guy in the alley means appearing before a judge and paying $1000 fine, and your mugshot is published in the local paper. Police could perform “stings” on known eLiquid suppliers… well, you see where I’m going with this.
Until Someone Actually Dies
I’m sure many of you believe I have taken the argument of FDA interference to “reductio ad absurdum” level, but I assure you I haven’t. Having said that I have no illusions that some kind of regulation will happen at some point. But I also believe that until someone dies from a bad batch of eLiquid or a severe allergic reaction to one of the ingredients you’re not likely going to see massive interference.
Why I Could Be Wrong
It doesn’t matter which side of the political argument you’re on, you know that the next 4 years at least the government is going to be obsessed with taxing and spending. It depends on how far they want to go with the ‘taxing’ part of it.
Should someone die from e Cigarettes, or should the appeal of an influx of revenue from taxing a product that is growing by leaps and bounds wind up being too seductive then all cards are off the table. This wouldn’t be the first time that the government could kill an industry in its infancy over too much regulation and too much taxing.
Let’s face it; the people voted for big government. They voted for big spending and big taxes. Entitlements are a heavy burden on the government and they continue to tax and borrow to make sure those entitlements stay put. By more than a million votes Americans asked their government to ‘tax and spend’ and the government they reelected happens to be really good at both.
Why I Think I’m Right
Still, even with Big Brother ruling the land there is still a bigger chance that things will remain the same in 2013 and nothing will be done to regulate or tax eCigarettes. The fact remains that the eCigarette industry is still in its infancy, that it is creating jobs, and it is the most successful “harm reduction” method ever. Perhaps smarter heads will prevail and someone in high places will convince the deluded and greedy politician to keep their hands off the industry, at least until such time as they can guarantee that Vapers will not stop vaping as the cost skyrockets.
I don’t know about you, but if I had to spend $49.99 for a weeks worth of e Liquid I’d stop vaping so fast it would make your head spin. Or, if my only choice were to buy a bottle of e Liquid from a person making it in the bathroom I’d stop vaping just as fast.
If you really look at the economic numbers coming out every week you’ll know that another, worldwide, recession is on the way. This one is going to be worse than 2008, you can bank on that.
2013 is the year the government begins taxing the hell out of us in order to get a jump on the 2014 rollout of ObamaCare (this is absolutely true, its been discussed ad nauseum since the passing of ObamaCare ), prices at the supermarket are exploding, first time unemployment claims are growing larger while those that have remained unemployed longer than their unemployment checks continue to roll in are dropping off the unemployment rolls in huge numbers (and when they do they are no longer counted as unemployed), and companies are announcing layoffs and investments are being cashed in now, before the rate for capital gains goes up on January 1st. Several friends of mine are have been cashing in for months in order to avoid the extra taxes in 2013. Can you blame them?
Any move now against the eCigarette industry, including the eLiquid aspect of it, could spell out another huge disaster for us Vapers. It could very well kill the industry, or at the very least it could cripple it. As greedy as politicians are I think (hope?) they aren’t as stupid as they are greedy. But then honestly, I’m never really surprised by the stupidity of politicians.
The Short Term Answer
There is something you and I can do right now to show Big Brother there is no hurry to jump in and muck things up. Here are just a few:
- Make sure that you are buying your eLiquids from companies that are legit and are taking every precaution to make their eLiquids in sterile environments. Buy from the people you see reviewed in Spinfuel. We vet them pretty heavily.
- Support the organizations that are looking out for you, Vapers. Look closely at the organizations and don’t be fooled, make sure Vapers at #1 on their list. And be careful about how much you give. Make sure the money is being used wisely. Please don’t make the mistake of throwing money at an organization and believe you’re helping the situation. As vaping becomes bigger and bigger (or rather “if”) more so-called ‘organizations will pop up claiming that they can help… they can’t.
- Support the politicians that support small business and low taxes. Support the ones that want to curb spending so taxes become less urgent. It’s fine to be social liberal, but unless you don’t care how much money goes to the government, or you don’t care how much the government spends, and borrows, then become a “fiscal conservative”.
- Vape smart, don’t take chances with your safety and your health. The less there is to bitch about the less those that are against us will have to use against us.
Nobody really knows what’s going to happen in 2013, but it’s fun to predict. Maybe the Feds will rain down terror on the eCigarette industry. Maybe all the great eLiquid companies will be forced to inject their liquids into cartomizers…but I doubt it.
Remember Occam’s Razor.
*Full disclosure: Julia and myself participated in the article and provided a few predictions of our own.