Could Regulations Create A Black Market?

The FDA is learning a very important lesson right now — people will turn to the black market for their needs if the vape industry is too regulated.

An article on Motherboard, a subsidiary of VICE, that was posted earlier this week focused on how easy — and cheap — it can be for vapers to DIY their own vape kits and liquids. It also mentioned that vapers who aren’t interested in DIYing their juices will just turn to the black market. And this flies in the face of the regulations handed down by the American and European Union governments.

Those regulations, which were released earlier this year, clamps down on the vaping industry, enforcing health and safety requirements. In America, the vape industry is furthered squeezed by companies having to undergo pre-market review processes for products already on the market, culminating in red-tape fees in the tens of millions of dollars.

But if the FDA and the government thought that would slow down vapers, they are finding out now that isn’t the case.

Clive Bates, a public policy blogger and former government employee, showcased this point when he ordered a bottle of 99 percent pure liquid nicotine online for just $32. This is the same liquid used by DIY vapers when they create their own juices and can last up to six months for a single vaper. By buying it online, Bates showed that the DIY community surrounding the vape community is gearing up to become a major player in the vaping world.

“The Food and Drug Administration is off in some weird dream world in which they think they control everything,” Bates reporter Kaleigh Rogers during a phone interview. “The truth is the consumers control everything.”

Nicotine, which is usually sold in diluted form, is often the most expensive part of DIYing juices. That means two things — one, long-term vapers who understand how juices are made will create their own with ingredients that can be found on Amazon. Even the parts to make a vape device can be found online as well.

Two, if nicotine is available for purchase, vapers who don’t want to mix their own juices will turn to the black market for their needs. This is dangerous because the black market isn’t regulated and juices could turn out to be poisonous if the nicotine strength is too high. And no one, especially the government, wants to see vapers get sick because they turned to the black market for vape juices they couldn’t get legally.

Most long-term vapers know that nicotine is dangerous — it is highly flammable and causes skin and eye irritation severe enough to send people to the hospital. But it’s also extremely poisonous, and even ingesting vape liquids, which have diluted nicotine in them, can cause someone to become sick. Just a teaspoon of nicotine at a mid-level concentration strength is enough to kill a child and two teaspoons could kill an adult.

But while this may seem like common sense, most DIY vapers don’t know how diluted nicotine needs to be in order to be safe for human consumption. In fact, many vapers who DIY liquids often end up making themselves sick because they don’t have enough education to keep themselves safe.

This is why common sense regulation is sorely needed in the industry. Overregulation puts more people in harm’s way, which was not the intention of the government when these regulations were handed down. But until these regulations are reconsidered, more and more vapers will turn to illegal or DIY projects to continue vaping. And that is something the government shouldn’t ignore.

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