It was announced today by the Wall Street Journal that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be imposing a regulatory ban on flavored vaping products, an initiative supported by the Trump Administration. But how will this affect Guam?
The ban was proposed by the Trump administration whose goal is to limit the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products by teenagers amid recent reports of deaths related to illicit vaping of black market THC vaping products.
But as local Vape Escape owner Theseus Mendiola points out, vaping is already illegal when it comes to teens, much like cigarette smoking, and a ban could have negative consequences.
“What that will mean for Guam and a lot of businesses in the U.S.? We carry 99.9 percent fruity flavors. A lot of us vapers we don’t want tobacco flavors. We are getting away from that and that’s the whole purpose behind this. If we ban flavors, I guarantee that all the shops will close down. We would lose all our employees, our jobs, and any monies we are contributing to the government through our taxes,” Mendiola said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that there will be two exceptions to the ban, permitting the sale of menthol and tobacco flavored vapes. But Mendiola believes that the ban has more to do with big tobacco companies losing money than it has to do with health.
“In 1998, there was an agreement called the MSA or the Master Settlement Agreement. Many of us in the vape industry have pointed to this as a reason why the Trump administration is proposing a flavor ban,” Mendiola said.
The MSA was made between 48 states and territories including Guam which would prevent big tobacco companies from being sued by states for any health-related illness as a result of cigarettes in exchange for money to be paid annually to the government.
In 2001, Guam stood to receive $24 million with the immediate execution of the MSA, according to a letter from then Guam Economic Development Authority Administrator Ed Untalan.
“The U.S. government is looking to ban flavored vape products because the bonds the states sold based on their projected money anticipated to be received annually by big tobacco companies is diminishing as more people move to e-cigarettes,” Mendiola said, adding that there has been a steady decline in tobacco sales by 3 percent annually and this is projected to reach 64 percent in the near future.
But if the root of the ban is to keep it out of the hands of youths, he says the government needs to start looking towards the black market and social media which he believes is predominately where teens are getting vape products.
Mendiola says legislation should instead be made to only allow vape products to be sold at adult establishments where individuals must be 21 or older to enter.
Local legislation was recently passed into law amending the Natasha Act which prohibits vaping within 20 feet of the entrances of establishments.