For those who follow the vaping industry, disposable vapes are easily some of the most compelling products on the market right now. They’re less expensive than ever. They also work better than ever, and thanks to nicotine salt e-liquid, they’re every bit as satisfying as tobacco cigarettes.
The main reason why disposable e-cigarettes are so interesting these days, though, is because of a federal law enacted at the beginning of 2020 that banned most flavors – leaving only tobacco and menthol exempt – for e-cigarettes with replaceable pods or cartridges. Bottled e-liquids aren’t covered by the ban and remain available in all flavors. Oddly, though, the ban also doesn’t mention disposable e-cigarettes.
Before the flavored pod ban, disposable e-cigarettes had reached a point of almost total irrelevance. Since the ban, though, companies like disposable vape seller E-Cigarette Empire can barely keep single-use e-cigarettes in stock.
Are you one of the many vapers who switched to disposable devices when the government enacted its ban on flavored e-cigarette pods? If you are, there’s probably a question on your mind.
It’s clear that the intent of the ban was to make flavored e-liquid the sole domain of refillable vaping devices while eliminating flavors for pre-filled devices. The fact that flavored disposable e-cigarettes have been allowed to remain on the market seems to be an oversight on the government’s part.
So, will the government ban disposable vapes? Here’s the good news: The short answer is “probably not.” However, it’s possible that many of the disposable e-cigarettes currently on the market will be going away in a couple of months anyway.
Let’s explore the issue and find out what’s going on.
Disposable Vapes May Appeal to Teens
The crux of the issue is that teens may find disposable vapes appealing because they’re still available in all of the flavors that are no longer available for pod-based e-cigarettes like JUUL. In surveys, teens have said that JUUL is their favorite e-cigarette brand. A modern disposable vape delivers a very JUUL-like experience – many current disposable e-cigarettes even look a lot like the JUUL device – and comes in all of the flavors that are no longer available for JUUL and other pod systems.
The point of the flavored pod ban was that the government was trying to make vaping less appealing to teens. There’s a strong possibility that teens will find disposable vapes appealing, so the government does have a reason to ban them. However, that is extremely unlikely to happen for three reasons.
Disposable Vapes Are Much Riskier for Teens to Buy
Although disposable vapes might appeal to teens, the fact is that, compared to JUUL pods, they are much riskier for teens to buy. A pack of four JUUL pods, for example, includes enough nicotine to last a full-time cigarette smoker about four days. For a teen who only vapes in his or her car or surreptitiously sneaks a few puffs in the bathroom, a pack of JUUL pods could easily last multiple weeks.
A typical disposable vape, on the other hand, only contains about as much nicotine as one JUUL pod. A teen who wants to switch to disposable vapes, therefore, will need to find a way to acquire disposable e-cigarettes – illegally – four times as often as he or she would need to buy packs of JUUL pods. In addition, disposable vapes are more difficult to conceal because they create a great deal more waste. Many – if not most – teens are going to conclude that disposable vapes simply aren’t worth the risk.
Vaping Laws Unlikely to Change During COVID-19 Pandemic
Given the current state of the world, it’s impossible to talk about vaping laws without framing the discussion around the global pandemic that we all currently face. Any laws that relate to vaping are extremely unlikely to change in the U.S. in the immediate future because the government is simply too busy with fighting the pandemic. The FDA is a key player in that fight and doesn’t have the resources to address COVID-19 and vaping simultaneously. The agency has already asked for permission to delay the impending PMTA deadline – which we’ll discuss shortly – from May to September. If the pandemic is as bad in September as it is now, the agency will likely delay the deadline again. Addressing vaping is completely impractical for any government agency right now.
In addition, the pandemic has also affected teens by forcing them to stay at home and avoid social situations as much as possible. Since most teens have very few opportunities to vape, it’s highly likely that COVID-19 has drastically reduced teen vaping rates.
FDA Premarket Tobacco Product Application Deadline Approaching
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the FDA requested and received permission to delay full regulation of vaping products – which was scheduled to begin in May 2020 – until September. The health crisis faced in the United States and around the world is only more serious now than it was a few months ago, and whether full regulation will actually happen in September remains to be seen.
For now, though, the FDA and the United States government are operating with the assumption that full regulation will begin in September. What that means is that, two months from now, all manufacturers of vaping products will be required to submit premarket applications for those products to the FDA. Any product that doesn’t have an application on file with the FDA will be illegal and must be pulled from the market.
Because the PMTA deadline is now so near, it makes little sense for Congress to amend the law and add a ban on flavored disposable vapes. By the time Congress finishes debating the new law and gets ready to enact it, it’ll be September or close to it. For that reason, it’s far more likely that the government will simply allow disposable vapes to continue existing for now. Hopefully, most manufacturers of disposable e-cigarettes are already preparing their applications and will be ready to submit the required paperwork when the September deadline arrives.