Hawaii e-cigarette businesses say new safety rules are overkill

Hawaii e-cigarette businesses say new safety rules are overkill
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii businesses that sell e-cigarettes are balking at a new federal rule, which requires e-cigarette products introduced after February 2007 to be submitted for a safety review.

Regulators will check ingredients, design and flavor and decide whether or not to approve them.

"It'll stifle innovation in the industry," Volcano Fine Electronic Cigarettes owner Cory Smith told Hawaii News Now on Thursday.

His Hawaii-based business produces its own e-cigarette products and sells them throughout the country and in 20 foreign countries. He estimates the regulations will cost his company more than $300,000 for every e-liquid he manufactures.

"If I have it in zero milligrams of nicotine, three milligrams of nicotine, six milligrams of nicotine, I would have to submit a separate application for each one of those variants," he said.

But while e-cigarette businesses are concerned about the FDA mandate, health advocates are celebrating it.

Hawaii Public Health Institute's Jessica Yamauchi said the new rules protect public health.

"What's concerning is nobody knows what's in those devices and because there has been no regulation it can vary from shop to shop," she said.

There are about 60 vape shops in the state, and they employ about 1,000 people.

Smith said the new regulations could decimate many small businesses.

Yamauchi says she understands the new rules will have a financial impact, but also said the industry needs to be regulated.

"You can't have an industry like this be completely unregulated. It's just not safe," she said.

E-cigarette companies, though, say they'd like to see a compromise: Rather than the changes affecting all e-cigarette items made after 2007, they could affect those made after 2016.

"That would essentially mean that all electronic cigarette products that are currently on the market would be grandfathered into the system," Smith said.

But Yamauchi counters that would be a bad idea.

"I absolutely think that they need to go backwards and they do need to test these products because nothing has been tested," she said.

There is something both Smith and Yamauchi agree on: The ban on e-cigarette sales to minors.

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