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It’s a challenging time to be a vaper. New restrictions at the federal and state levels will make it tougher for them to buy and sell vaping goods — both with and without nicotine as the FDAs enforcement efforts continue to crack down on illegal vape distributors.

Shipping ain’t simple

Late in 2020, Congress passed new restrictions on how USPS can ship tobacco products; the expanded law today   includes vaping products. The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, signed into law in 2009, basically said the US Postal Office couldn’t deliver any tobacco products directly to the customer.  

From the 2020 bill, Congress amended the act,   enlarging   the law to include any “electronic nicotine delivery system,” defined as “any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or another substance to the consumer inhaling from the apparatus. ” FDA-approved therapeutics and cessation tools are exempted provided that they’re only marketed for cessation.

Private shipping companies FedEx and UPS have since adopted similar restrictions. FedEx won’t accept any shipments of tobacco-related products. This even applies to shops, no matter license or authorization.

UPS instituted new policies on April 5, banning delivery of tobacco-related products. Its recorded policy is more specific than FedEx’s, stipulating the vaping products do not have to contain tobacco or nicotine to be affected by the ban. Additionally, it specifies that it will neither import nor export these products.

Violating the law carries civil and criminal penalties. The law was amended in 2010, for among other reasons, because tobacco providers and customers were using the web for their transactions, bypassing federal laws for record-keeping and tax collecting. The US e-cigarette and vape market was valued at $6.09 billion last year.

FDA actions continue

The transition in the Trump into the Biden government hasn’t slowed down continuing FDA crackdowns on vape shops and e-cigarette distributors. So far this season, dozens of vape manufacturers and distributors have received warning letters from the Center for Tobacco Products. Many of the companies which received letters are manufacturers registered with the FDA, some with thousands of different products that have met the requirements.

The FDA regulates tobacco products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Tobacco Control Act of 2009. It defines tobacco products as “any product made or derived from tobacco and intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product. ” That means both vaping devices and liquids are classified as tobacco products. The warnings are primarily for incorporating an unknown ingredient rather than representing what the item honestly contains or can do. In FDA parlance: adulterated and misbranded.

In the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, products are “adulterated” since they have not been granted FDA authorization for production and sale, and “misbranded” since they do not   carry a mandatory notice with manufacturing and content information.

A hodgepodge of local rules

In the local and state levels, change can be in movement — in multiple directions. Prospective 

Vapers and distributors will need to keep a close eye on new developments.

According to local reports, Florida is moving to raise the smoking and vaping age to 21 and to regulate vaping products separately from combustibles. Tennessee is also increasing the age into 21, while Suffolk County, New York believes an even larger increase to 25.

Flavor bans are under consideration in Indiana and as part of a larger list of restrictions in Connecticut, while an indoor vaping ban recently passed in Nebraska.   South Carolina is introducing legislation to take regulatory power away from municipalities and to focus it at the country level.

The take home

The FDA isn’t offering anything new in terms of vaping safety information, but its regulations do indicate something every consumer should remember: Be careful about the sources that you trust, and take some opportunity to be sure you know what you’re purchasing. Especially in evolving markets, it’s important to pay heed to those grey areas.

Sean Marsala is a health writer based in Philadelphia, Pa.. Passionate about technology, he can usually be found reading, browsing the web and exploring virtual worlds.

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