The FDA doesn’t really regulate e-juice – yet.
Which is surprising, seeing as it’s 2015 and there are millions of e-cigarette users spread throughout the US. Pretty much anyone can think of a company name, bottle the juice, and sell it directly to consumers. There are no standards for cleanliness, and the ingredients in the juice doesn’t have to be listed (although many manufacturers list them by choice).
Some think this lack of regulation is good; some think it’s bad. To give the average vape user a comprehensive look at the state of the FDA and e-juice in 2015, we asked 10 vape community leaders (owners of shops or popular vape websites) what they thought.
Specifically, here’s what we asked them:
- What are your thoughts on the FDA regulating e-juice?
- Should manufacturers be required to list ingredients?
- Some already do, but do you think the FDA should be testing these batches to verify results?
If you vape and you’re curious what might happen to your hobby once the government steps in, read on.
Nick @ GrimmGreen/Namberjuice (Popular Blogger / E-Juice Company Owner)
Watch on YouTube
The FDA is going to regulate us weather we want them to or not. If their regulations are sensible and reasonable then a lot of currently responsible companies will be able to comply with them. Unfortunately I don’t think that will be the case. My background is in food manufacturing. So I understand the need for things like HACCP, and GMP rules. It truly makes products safer. Namberjuice operates out of an ISO9 AEMSA Certified lab. We have taken every possible precaution from flavorings and raw ingredients, to a sanitary food grade mixing facility.
I think more worrisome than the Federal regulations are the state and local regulations. Indiana just passed a HUGE tax on liquids, Washington state has done the same, California is about to make vaping completely illegal in public places including your own apartment and vape shops. So even if the FDA comes in and hands out some strict but reasonable regulations. The states still have the ability to regulate, tax and ban vaping, which in my eyes is much scarier.
Summary: The FDA has to be smart with regulation or the majority of companies won’t be able to meet the guidelines. Aside from the FDA’s rules, we need to be looking at the laws passing in each individual state, too.
Steve K. @ Steve Vape (Independent online vape resource)
Well not to split hairs here, but even if it were a requirement, the FDA itself would never actually test anything. They rely on the manufacturer to submit the test data for the agency’s evaluation. That’s why the looming regulations are so terrifying. Every flavor and strength will be required to submit data for pre-market authorization. Each of those can cost a hundred thousand dollars or more.
That being said, I personally would feel more comfortable if SOMEONE would ultimately be responsible for ensuring the safety of our products. I have zero confidence in a federal agency like the FDA being able to do it without royally screwing the industry. The industry could self regulate, but it essentially has self regulated and look where we’re at today.
Summary: The FDA’s “regulations” aren’t foolproof and add a huge cost to e-juice manufacturers. Someone should officially regulate the industry, but the FDA may not be the best body to do it.
Meaghan C. @ Vape Me Stoopid (Misc. Vape Blog)
I don’t think it should be the FDA’s responsibility to test e-liquid. That should be left to the manufacturer. Manufacturers that are confident in their product won’t have a problem paying the bill for testing. These tests will allow them to make their product even safer and that is the end goal for all of us as vapers anyways. A product that is as safe as possible while still being less harmful than smoking. I am all for regulation for quality on e-liquid and I do think that basic ingredients should at the very least, be listed on the website of the companies.
Summary: The FDA doesn’t need to test e-juice. Manufacturers should do it themselves and foot the bill themselves. Basic ingredients should be listed on the sites of manufacturers, but not necessarily full ingredient lists.
Nathan S. @ Vaping Cheap (Budget Vaping A-Z)
Regulation of some kind is inevitable and yes I think manufacturers should be listing ingredients. Customers have a right to know what they are inhaling.The regulation of products is not an area of expertise for me so I don’t have a huge opinion on this matter. I just hope whatever they do actually makes it safer for the consumers without having a negative effect on the market.
Summary: E-juice is just like food – customers need to know what’s inside to be safe. Regulation is coming regardless, but hopefully it doesn’t change the e-juice market significantly from what it currently is.
Charles Y. (Vape Guides)
I’ve had juices tested and there’s some nasty stuff in a few brands. Yes, it’s necessary.
Yes, contents should be listed on bottles but it’s impossible to list them all, at least for some brewers.
Summary: It’s naive to think that every manufacturer out there is conducting proper tests on their juices – or even making them in a sanitary way to start with. Yes to the test and yes to the ingredients being listed – but maybe not all of the ingredients.
The FDA should regulate e-juice. Yes they should be required to list ingredients, use safety-capped bottles, shrink-wrapped too. eLiquids should be treated much like food preparation, in clean environment free of contamination, and bottled in the same fashion. Eliquid companies should be subject to the same on-site physical inspections like restaurants and their inspection report should be posted on-site and if sold online it should be posted on a webpage. While I believe we should all have the freedom to vape whatever we want, we should be able to trust eliquid brands and believe that they are never home-brewed despite the sometimes ‘fancy packaging’. “
Summary: E-juice should be treated just like food – same quality and cleanliness guidelines, etc. Right now, there’s no way to tell if an e-juice is safe (short of doing your own tests), even if it’s marketed heavily.
Lindsay F. @ ECigaretteReviewed (E-Cig Reviews)
Perhaps surprisingly, my overall thoughts on the FDA regulating e-juice are positive, but – and this is a big “”but”” – not in the fashion currently proposed. The things we need are basic product standards, reasonable limits on impurities in e-liquid, and things of that nature (cleanliness standards for e-liquid mixing facilities e.t.c.), as well as some stuff to minimize the amount of kids who get access to e-cigs and liquid (although some obviously will still get access, as with alcohol, tobacco, drugs and anything else we don’t want them to have). What is currently being proposed is a primarily bureaucratic set of regulations that threatens to wipe out almost all vaping products with no clear benefits in terms of product standards; that, in my view, would be an absurd and damaging way to regulate a life-saving product.
I think ingredient listings should be required: my personal pet peeve here is with listing “”flavorings”” on the ingredients. I understand that they’re all food-safe and everything, but “”flavorings”” can mean a lot of things (including, for example, diacetyl), and we should be told exactly what flavorings we’ll be inhaling. It’s like if instead of writing PG and VG they’d just put “”diluents.””
It would be better for the businesses that make up the industry if the FDA conducted the testing, but I’m sure they’ll make the companies do that instead. This isn’t too expensive per juice, as far as I know, but for companies with a lot of juices it could quickly add up. I’m not particularly worried about secret nasty ingredients lurking in my juice, if I’m honest, but periodic testing to confirm relative purity seems reasonable. It shouldn’t be too demanding, though: anything that seriously limits the availability of e-liquids would ultimately do more harm than good.
Summary: Regulation is good on the surface, but could be bad if not executed correctly. Instead of regulating for no reason, find ways to keep juice safe that doesn’t monopolize the market too much.
Jerry R. @ Seven Report (Vape News, Videos, And More)
My immediate, knee-jerk response to any talk of government involvement in anything is, “This will not end well.” Government involvement, even if it’s well-intentioned (and I’m not sure that that is EVER the case), always has unintended consequences, raises prices, inhibits innovation, kills small businesses and almost always produces inferior products; people and companies get so tied up in governmental red tape and trying to satisfy all the regulations that product, consumers and business suffer as a result, ALWAYS. I’m a proponent of self-regulation. And, as you stated in the question, many ejuice producers already list their ingredients, bottle their products in child-proof containers, list batch numbers and dates and more. People are inherently smarter than the government gives them credit for being. And the vaping community is tight knit enough that if an unscrupulous ejuice manufacturer were to manage to get his product distributed, it wouldn’t take very long for the word to get around and people to stop buying it. So no, I do not believe the FDA should be anywhere near an ejuice clean room.
Summary: Hell no. Government regulation, even when done by smart people with the best of intentions, almost always has negative effects on an industry. E-juice will end in the exact same way.
Sam L. @ Vape Core (Vape News, Deals, Tutorials)
Regulation is a really tricky subject. Overall, I’m not necessarily opposed to it. However, I feel like the real issue here is that there really hasn’t been a lot of good quality research done on the long term effects of e-cigarette usage. As a result, I don’t feel like there is enough hard evidence out there on what is safe and what isn’t for the FDA to be able to make an educated decision one way or the other. If the FDA were to start regulating ejuice tomorrow, I think it would be wrong because there just isn’t a strong basis to do so. Tens of thousands of people around the world have chosen to try to improve their lives by quitting smoking in favor of vaping. Ultimately, we don’t really know if that is even a good decision, but on the surface it seems like the far lesser of two evils.
My biggest vaping wish at this point is that a very strong push should be made to thoroughly examine the effects of vaping so that we have a much deeper understanding of the long term effects, and can identify problem areas and proactively work to solve them.
Once we start moving in that direction, I think the FDA will have a much easier time making an educated decision that won’t alienate vapers and push people back toward cigarettes.
Whether any of that will actually happen remains to be seen, but I’m really hoping for a lot more intense research into the health effects in the coming months and years, and I sincerely hope that the FDA doesn’t make any hasty decisions without a strong foundation of evidence for doing so.
Summary: There’s not enough knowledge on the long-term effects of vaping to allow the FDA to make any sort of meaningful regulation. Let’s focus on figuring out the long-term side effects (if any) first.
Agis @ VapeORama (Vape Apparel & Media)
I believe in striving for the healthiest e-juices we could have. E-liquids with no toxic components, produced under the most hygienic conditions and offered in child-proof packaging with all the necessary signs. I’m all for a proper regulation -of the kind that really benefits vapers. I’m not sure whether we need a full ingredients’ list but we sure need to know that our e-juice doesn’t contain things like diacetyl, acetyl propionyl and acetaldehyde. So, they should be properly tested and, unfortunately, most manufacturers have shown a spectacular lack of self-regulating abilities!
The problem is we also have reasons not to trust our own governments, legislators and institutions. We’re left with the difficult role of trying to avoid senseless over-regulation while fighting for our own health. There’s no easy answer on that but someone should test those batches and I wish I could trust the FDA -or my country’s equivalent- to do this task instead of making manufacturers jump through hoops, paying exorbitant fees and filling countless forms.
Summary: E-juice needs to be healthy, but the FDA’s regulation won’t necessarily make it so. Realistically, the regulation needs to have direct effects on improving the quality of e-juice. They can’t just do something for the sake of doing something.
It’s only a matter of time before the e-cig community becomes too big to ignore. When that happens, we’ll likely see the FTC step in and impose quality guidelines of some sort. Some of our experts above are for it, some are against it – for now, we’re going to stay neutral and see how it plays out. At least the FDA hasn’t done anything too drastic – yet.
What do you think? How long will the e-juice market run wild before the government steps in? If they do, that is… leave your thoughts below!