No more Free Samples--Blame the FDA
The FDA deeming regulations for the vape industry went into effect August 8th, 2016. These are a scaled timeline of regulations that attempt to regulate the industry that go into effect from now until August 2018 in stages. They are very badly written, but the FDA had to follow the law (under their own and Federal regulations and charters) regarding tobacco products once they deemed "vaping" as a “tobacco” product.
The three things that went into effect this month were 1.) No sales to anyone under 18, 2.) No vending machine sales in places that are not limited to adults only, and 3.) No free samples may be given out.
The free sample law was originally designed for the tobacco industry. Marlboro or Camel cannot be allowed to hand out free cigarettes at high schools and college campuses to lure young ones to smoking by giving "free samples." We originally believed this law was meant primar00ily for trade shows, where Velvet used to hand out thousands of free samples to vapers who had passed an ID check at the door. However, it is not. We are not allowed to comp anything for free now.
So, for online customers, we have had to cut our normal free sample with internet purchase tradition. I am working with the web developer to make getting a sample for a small fee, like 25 cents, as an add-on to your internet order.
In our retail store, we can no longer allow customers to taste the sample bar for free, as it is considered a “sample” even though you are not getting a free bottle. We will be charging 25 cents to do a tasting, per visit, but customers may taste as many flavors as desired from the bar. All samples are at 0 milligram nicotine for that fee.
Additionally, the Belly Rewards program in the retail store now earns you rewards for a 25-cent bottle instead of a free bottle. No free bottles are allowed anymore.
Before we implemented this, we consulted with SFATA (the Smoke-Free Trade Association--our trade group) lawyers, and they are telling us that a small charge must be made and records kept in our computer systems to verify that we charge these fees. We are not trying to extort our customers by cutting benefits; we are obeying new Federal regulations.
CUSTOMERS! Keep an eye on the news regarding the FDA lawsuit coming up in October. A combined plaintiff lawsuit is being brought against them, primarily due to violation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). The RFA is the best way to fight the FDA in the vaping world. It was designed to prevent overarching federal regulation to hurt small businesses and stifle the economy in general. I believe these suits have a very good chance, since there is such a significant impact on the industry and economy in general.
These regulations will cause 99% of vape shops to close…an estimated 100,000 American jobs lost (a lowball number). If the lawsuit is successful, the regulations will be put on hold, and they must be approved by a Congressional vote. Our hope is that we can get the regulations altered enough that we are not required to pay a million bucks for each flavor to get approved…or vaping goes out the window.
But for now…we must abide by the FDA and give no free samples. Thanks for understanding.