The government is finally making a move on the regulation of e-cigarettes. The now billion dollar industry has run unchecked by the federal government for years, leaving it to the states to regulate. Current rules give the federal government the authority to regulate e-cigs along with pipe tobacco, cigars, and other related products. But these rules neglect to address several important and pressing issues like, if flavored e-cigs should be available and how to regulate television advertisements. This will require more rule making, which has been notoriously slow thus far. While the process of rulemaking is old hat for the government, e-cig advocates and merchants are frustrated.
Mitchell Zeller, the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, explains that the reason that the agency has not made rules pertaining to flavors and advertising is because regulators are waiting on science to fully understand the health effects of e-cigs. This means that, at least for now, the e-cig market is wide open for investors and e-cig merchants to saturate the market with flavors and advertising.
Health advocates are also frustrated by slow FDA regulations. They believe that the FDA should make preliminary rules that restrict the flavoring of e-cig solutions and advertising, as flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy will entice children to use e-cigs. These issues may not be addressed for years. Even if the FDA addresses these issues, companies legally have two years after regulations kick in to submit applications for approval. If some companies sue, this could further delay the process.
Because of a lack of advertising restrictions for e-cigs, a marketing war is destined to occur between traditional cigarette companies that have invested in e-cig brands. Companies like Altria, parent company of Phillip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds, are gearing up for nationwide marketing campaigns. Previously these companies agreed to stop traditional cigarette marketing on billboards and other forms of public transportation. When asked if this policy would continue with e-cigarettes, a representative of Altria declined to answer.
Now is the time for entrepreneurs interested in carving out a space in the e-cig landscape to build brand recognition and make serious profits. EMB’s dedicated account managers can create and manage your e-cig merchant account so that your customers have the ability to pay for products online and with debit/credit.