For those vape shops and other retailers who still aren’t convinced that the FDA deeming regulations are a true threat, look no further than a recent announcement spreading across social media. According to published reports, some 55 warning letters were recently issued for allegedly selling e-cigs, e-liquid, and other vaping products to minors.
It’s only been a few weeks since the deeming regulations officially went into effect, and already the FDA is cracking the whip. Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, expects that there will be hundreds or perhaps thousands more letters issued in the very near future.
“Don't make the mistake of thinking the lack of vape shops on the list means all vape shops passed. Statistically, it would be highly unusual for not a single shop to fail. FDA sends out these warnings fairly consistently, so more will be coming.”
Almost immediately after the announcement appeared on social media, one unsuspecting retailer who was inadvertently caught by the FDA issued a public apology via Reddit to the entire vaping community. According to a spokesperson for JVapes E-Liquid, the company chalks the violation up to shoddy age verification software, or perhaps an even more sinister reason. Once the sales order in question was finally tracked down, JVapes wonders if they weren’t secretly targeted by “an FDA minion.”
“I just wanted to personally apologize to everyone here… for this. We've narrowed down the order that got through, we think, and it's clearly directed to an FDA minion (the billing address is a UPS store, and the shipping address is another mailbox at a parcel store). Why our system didn't flag it, I have no idea, but the e-mail address and phone number on the order don't connect to any kind of social media accounts or anything like that, so clearly they are making up fake e-mail addresses (and potentially even fake names? I don't know) to order online to catch companies snoozing. We thought we had everything in place, and we clearly didn't. Other vendors take this as a warning, no age verification system is fool-proof, and when you're talking about names that have zero online presence, it's going to be really hard for your system to flag them as potential minors unless you have extremely strict filtering in place.”
The company had been using Verstad for online age verification but is now considering other alternatives. In the meantime, numerous vape shops and tobacco stores around the country are now transitioning to a manual process instead, just to be sure. Manual age verification can take many forms, such as requiring an electronic photo of the customer holding up their picture ID, video contact via Skype or Facetime, or perhaps more time-consuming tasks such as scouring the customer’s social media feeds looking for birth dates.
Here is a complete list of the 55 tobacco stores receiving the very first warning letters over alleged FDA deeming violations