Big news in the Vape and e-juice world –
Time’s up, the FDA is shaking things up, after all
In September the FDA gave tobacco and vape juice company’s 60 days to come up with a solution to a fast-growing vape problem with America’s youth. Over the last year alone the number of teen vaping has risen 75%, (according to recent studies). The 60 days are up, and now multiple tobacco and vape companies have promised to halt or shut down their sales and distribution of the flavored vape juices that are the major cause of concern. Many of these flavors are so sweet that they easily attract minors and the devices are small and similar looking to flash drives making them hard to notice by teachers and parents.
The FDA threatened a complete ban on many of these flavored vape juices but has recently decided against such action – for the time being. They will, however, be pursuing a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, a process that would take at least 2 years to fully implement – according to a recent NY Times article. In addition to that, there is a call to improve age verification technology and practices to prevent sales to minors both off and online. The only reason the FDA seems to have put a halt on their vape juice ban is that they have decided to allow the sale of these products in “adult only” sections of the convenience store, or hidden behind the counter, where minors cannot see them. A lot of the specific attention here is on retail tobacco/vape shops and convenience stores, not e-commerce shops, but that doesn’t mean e-commerce is not significantly affected by this change. It is.
How will vape juice regulations affect your e-commerce shop?
Right now there is much speculation in this industry, but anyone who has been in it for a few years knows that we are already on thin ice regarding vape juice and e-cigs sales and distribution. There was a pushback for the deadline of manufacturing standards from last year to 2021, this is a very different issue, and doesn’t threaten the industry at large, but can be a particular problem for shops who sell more sweeter flavored vape juices than they do anything else. Shops who sell a high volume of these flavors will find that as of right now they will be harder to obtain certain brands and flavors, such as Juul, which dominates the vape industry with over 75% of the e-cig market. Juul has recently announced they will be suspending sales of most of its flavored e-cig pods in retail stores. With the recent FDA decision not to ban the product, we might see Juul reverse its decision. But if there is to be new regulation around brick-and-mortar stores making the product more of a hassle to buy, we might see an increase in e-commerce shopping for it’s convenience. While we are not 100% sure how this will affect their sales to retail or e-commerce merchants, it could bring massive changes to the market. Now might be a good time to diversify your inventory, especially if you stock Juul products predominantly. R.J. Reynolds is another company that will be ending it’s online marketing promotions and has vowed to improve their age verification process, which is another big next step for those who might have a less-than-stellar age verifier on their website. The biggest change will be in terms of age verification upon delivery.
Age verification modernization and improvement
Even if you think you have a strong and hard to fool age verification system, the likeliness is it’s relatively easy for a minor to work around with the right resources. The fact of the matter is there aren’t many systems of age verification currently available that provide accurate confirmation of who is on the other side of the line. Teens have been using their parents (or other adults in their life) information to buy restricted things for as long as commerce has existed. This FDA push includes a significant effort to modernize age verification with technology. Pretty soon, we expect, if you want to sell over 18 or 21 age-restricted products, the customer will have to take a real-time picture to match against their ID. For the e-commerce merchant, this means having a website that is fast and powerful enough to do this in real time and quick enough not to inconvenience the customers so much that they give up on the sale and go to another site to make their purchases. Speaking of 18 years old vs. 21 years old, another regulation is being written to increase the age of purchasing tobacco and vape products from 18 to 21, and currently, many former opponents of such a bill have turned around in support of it, specifically Altria, one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world. The biggest change though is in terms of delivery. Soon – to ship e-juice that contains nicotine – you will have to use a carrier that checks ID on delivery – just like if you were shipping alcohol.
Moving your vape business forward
If you are new to this market or just trying to break in, don’t worry; this might actually create a bigger push for e-commerce sales while the retail stores have to figure out how to adapt to the change. As mentioned above diversifying might be a good move, not only do we help vape and tobacco merchants find great merchant account providers and setup your high-risk payment gateways, we also support a host of other merchants, like cigars, smoking accessories, tactical gear and more. We specialize in matching merchants with suitable payment gateways and merchant account recommendations that allow them to sell the products they want to sell. From there we can then help you install and set up your credit card processor, or as we refer to it, your high-risk payment processor. Our help comes at no cost or obligation to you. If you need help to widen your product line properly give us a call or fill out the contact form below.
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