Totally Wicked’s recent press release states they will no longer be forced to close, and are even opening more stores as a result of the extra time
Totally Wicked has been a fixture in the vaping industry for as long as anyone. They were the first brick and mortar vape shop to have stores in both the UK and the US, starting way back in 2008. Since then they have helped countless customers transition from smoking to vaping. Last year they announced they would be forced to close when the FDA’s deeming rules took effect, citing an insurmountable amount of red tape and resources required.
At the time, they went on the record saying that the misinformation used and disseminated by the media is, intentionally or not, ignoring the mounting evidence. They made it clear that the extreme harm reduction value of vaping over smoking is factually based, but not much else was given at the time, especially about possible paths forward for the company. So it was a welcome sight to see last week they published a press release on Business Wire announcing their plans to not only stay open but actually expand operations.
The press release was published last Friday and gave a brief overview of their stance and plans for continued business moving forward. They first expressed grave concern over the amount of misinformation that is spread by the mainstream media about vaping. They directly blame this for the successful passage of the deeming rule in the first place. In their view, the August 2016 decision to require costly Pre-Market Tobacco Applications for all vaping products introduced after 2007 made the continued operation of small and medium vape businesses “effectively impossible.”
In regards to their business specifically, they announced at the time that they would no longer be able to operate in the United States after the original implementation date. They felt it was important to be upfront with their customers, saying “it is impossible for our company to continue doing business in the USA after August 7th, 2018.” Committed to their mission to always do the right thing regardless of the consequences, they expressed their worries that the deeming rule would not only be the end of their business but virtually the entire vaping industry in America.
Luckily the new FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, announced in July of this year that they would be postponing the deeming rule until 2022. According to the FDA, they wish to continue research into the real harm reduction value of vaping over smoking before moving forward. Totally Wicked commended this decision by Dr. Gottlieb as “a real partnership that includes consultation with vaping companies to make these products the safest that they possibly can be.” As a result, they have been given a new lease on life. In fact, Totally Wicked even announced that they would be opening two new locations in the very near future, with more coming on the horizon.
Not As Lucky
Not every business has been as lucky as Totally Wicked. There have been many businesses who saw no path forward given the new restrictions and have already ceased operation. Just last month, one of the largest independent vape juice manufacturers in the country, Johnson Creek Enterprises was forced to shut down after operating since 2008. Their founder, Christian Berkey went on the record earlier this year saying that the impending regulations would force them to close.
This was just the latest in a line of independently owned business closures that have rocked the vaping industry. ProVape faced similar issues and was forced to close earlier this year, citing an excess of stock that they are unable to process adequately for the new regulations. Most of their website is no longer even online at all.
While the postponement of the deeming rule enforcement has saved some companies like Totally Wicked, the delay is just that, only a delay. That is why it is imperative that we continue to fight for vaping rights. After all, it’s the hard work of countless advocates that helped get the deeming rule postponed in the first place. If we get complacent, we will only likely find ourselves in the same position in four years.
If we don’t fight to make sure that the FDA’s deeming rules are repealed altogether, the industries landscape will significantly disadvantage smaller, independent companies. Which necessarily gives a massive advantage to large tobacco companies trying to break into the smokeless market. Organizations like Philip Morris International are already making strides with their iQOS system abroad, and significantly reducing the number of viable competitors in America will only create a perfect situation for them.
The research continues to build for not just the considerable harm reduction value of e-cigarettes, but also their utility as an actual smoking cessation tool. So it should be paramount that we work toward making this understood by as much of the general public as possible. That is the only way to ensure that the deeming rule or something like it never cripples the vaping industry in America.
Do you think that concerns over the deeming rule are directly leading to business closures? Do you think that heavy regulations like those required by the deeming rule give an advantage to big tobacco companies with more resources? How can we work to inform the public about the harm reduction value of e-cigarettes? Let us know what you think in the comments.