E-cigarettes and vaporizers definitely have a strong following. The battery powered devices heat flavored and nicotine infused liquid into an inhalable vapor. But the growing industry has had free reign to operate with no government oversight.
Michael Keller, the manager of S.S. Vape on York Road, said it's dangerous for customers when they don't know what's in the e-liquid they're smoking.
"You can go somewhere and they can add a whole bunch of stuff to it, you don't really know the quality of what they're giving you,” he said. “So there are a lot of people that have gotten sick from poor quality ingredients, and it's just not something that you really want."
But that's about to change. The Federal Drug Administration now defines e-cigs and vapes as tobacco products, and shops that mix their own e-liquid are defined as tobacco manufacturers. The FDA crackdown will extend current restrictions on traditional cigarettes to a bunch of other products like e-cigarettes, vaporizers, hookahs, and cigars. Before brands can stay in the market, regulators will have to check the design, and contents through an expensive approval process.
Some local shops worry it will put smaller companies out of business or mean higher prices for smokers.
"Yeah, I mean, it definitely could,” said Keller. “But at the same time, you shouldn't really be in business if what you're doing is going to be harmful to somebody instead of helpful."
Under the new rules, the FDA can now regulate ingredients and ban misleading claims.
Some smokers say using these electronic devices helps them quit smoking tobacco or cut down on cigarette use, but so far, there's little scientific consensus on the risks or advantages of vaping.
The rules go into effect this August, but shops and users likely won't see big changes any time soon. Companies making the devices and products have two years to submit an application detailing ingredients, potential health effects and how each product is made to the FDA. They will then have another year while the federal agency reviews it.