DES MOINES, Iowa - New regulations by the Food and Drug Administration on electronic cigarettes could damage some small vape stores in Des Moines, one business manager worries.
The e-cigarette fad has taken over just about everywhere, and the Metro is no different. But for Cloud-E Vape Lounge on Ingersoll Avenue, these new regulations could mean an end for the business.
"Between the 500 pages, there's a lot to comprehend," manager Nick Halligan said.
Halligan admits he hasn't had a chance to completely sort through the 500 pages of FDA regulations on e-cigarettes that take effect in less than 90 days. But he points that as an exact reason other small vape shops in town will suffer - a lack of understanding, and resources.
"Right now, we're just trying to do as any other business would, and keep moving forward," he said. "But at the same time, with the way that the regulations come in by date, and they're just slowly bringing them in - if we quite don't understand them, and we can't get lawyer help, or something along the lines of that, we may just pull out."
Halligan says e-cigarettes have taken over as an alternative to smoking the real thing for many - including himself.
"It's just a greater way to get your nicotine without carcinogens," he said. "I have been smoking since I was 14; I'm 26. I got in vapes in February of last year, and I've pretty much killed my cigarette habit."
It's people like Halligan that are fueling the e-cigarette industry; Cloud-E Vape Lounge attracts customers not only to buy product, but to hang around and enjoy vaporizing together.
"This is more of a lounge, than just a vape shop," he said. "So we've got people who hang out, it's just a great environment to be."
Part of the FDA's new regulations - the first regulations on e-cigarettes in history - classifies the vaporizers as a "tobacco product," and regulates the liquid that contains nicotine inside them. This creates a new slew of hoops businesses much jump through to get their technologies - and house-made liquids - approved by the FDA.
"We wouldn't be able to [afford it], but it'd basically be the strong versus the weak, and whoever can pay for it, will, and it'll kill a lot of business, for sure," he said.
But not everyone feels sorry for these small vape shops; many groups have been calling on the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes for years. The American Lung Association points out not enough research has been done to prove e-cigarettes aren't harmful, and not regulating them could lead to major risks. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control reports youths now use e-cigarettes more than they use real cigarettes - suggesting some kids are picking up the habit of consuming nicotine when they otherwise may have never tried a real cigarette.