Vape-restricting bill advances as retailers warn of market harm
New regulations fail to attract vape shops.

The Sunshine State leads the nation in China-sourced nicotine dispensing device sales, according to the Florida Retail Federation.

Legislation to clear Florida shelves of all but 23 vaping products — including all flavors but tobacco — is advancing despite complaints from retailers that it will burn the industry and send consumers back to cigarettes.

The bill (SB 1006) would limit sales in Florida only to vape products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all of which are made and sold by Big Tobacco. Scores of other products now sold throughout the state would, in turn, be banned.

More than a dozen Floridians in the vape industry spoke out against the bill before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government unanimously approved it.

But according to Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry, the measure’s sponsor, the limits are necessary to protect children and consumers from unsafe products and counteract a $363 million illegal vape market.

Thousands of unauthorized vape products are pouring into the U.S. despite an FDA crackdown imposed under former President Donald Trump that was meant to block kid-attractive flavors and Chinese-made options. And because they’re entering the market faster than regulators can individually ban them, Perry said, there needs to be a more comprehensive approach.

More than half of Florida voters are unaware disposable Chinese vapes are for sale in the U.S., according to a recent poll in which 57% of respondents said they support the strictures in SB 1006.

“Florida now has the devious distinction of being the No. 1 state in the country for illegal and illicit vapes,” he said. “What (this bill) does is it says we’re going to have a state registry and only the products that are approved by the FDA are going to be eligible for that registry (so) people with vape shops can still sell products. They just have to be approved by the FDA.”

As several vape shop owners were quick to point out, however, the FDA has been exceedingly picky about which products it approves. Since 2021, the agency has rejected more than a million applications for tobacco alternatives and approved just 23 e-cigarette products, all tobacco-flavored, owned exclusively by three tobacco giants: RJ Reynolds, Japan Tobacco International and Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris.

“This bill does nothing to address youth vaping like limiting where those products are sold,” said Houston Blackwell, a U.S. Navy veteran who quit smoking using vape products and now owns vape retail outlets in Tampa. “Instead, it hands the monopoly over to Big Tobacco, who would control the only … FDA-applied items on the market today.”

FDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials have long maintained that flavored vape products, including menthol products, are more attractive to children. In October, Attorney General Ashley Moody sued vape company Juul, to which Altria is a 35% owner, alleging it improperly markets to minors and offers misleading information about its content.

Twenty-two percent of Florida high schoolers and 12% of middle schoolers have vaped, according to Chief Deputy Attorney General John Guard, who told the committee that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) today can’t do much about it without legislative action.

“Overwhelmingly, Florida’s children are choosing these … illicit vapes that are coming into this country,” he said. “This bill would slow or stop that flow to Florida’s youth.”

If approved, SB 1006 would create a directory under DBPR for manufacturers of nicotine dispensing devices e-cigarettes and vape cartridges to register the products they sell that have received FDA approval. DBPR would then publish that list online for retailers and wholesalers to review and ensure they comply.

The bill would also require wholesalers to receive a permit to do business in Florida and prohibit manufacturers from destroying certain records, including information identifying their customers, for three years.

Companies or people that provide false information to DBPR would face third-degree felony charges, punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Manufacturers that knowingly ship or receive unapproved or unregistered vape and e-cig products would face up to $1,000 in fines per violation.

Any person who knowingly ships or receives unapproved or unregistered products would face a second-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to $500 in fines and 60 days in jail.

DBPR estimates it will cost an additional $562,500 to cover nine new positions and create an online system necessary to facilitate and enforce the proposed law, a Senate staff analysis of the bill said.

Nick Orlando, a shop owner in Clearwater and President of the pro-vape Florida Smoke Free Association PAC, said the bill will have a staggering impact on the growing industry here while doing nothing to improve public health.

He recommended that lawmakers toss the measure and instead draft another that will allow the market to thrive while still boosting safety. Such a bill, he said, should include the creation of a registry under DBPR that uses a federal list of manufacturers, create a permitting fee to fund enforcement and limit the sale of vape products to 21-and-over specialty stores.

“This addresses the registry, youth access and enforcement,” he said. “I believe Florida can do better.”

SB 1006 will next go to the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee, after which it would receive a floor vote. A similar House companion (HB 1007) by Palm City Republican Rep. Toby Overdorf also pends one more committee hearing before being eligible for a full vote by the chamber.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • florida is Breaking Bad not set in a dry area

    February 21, 2024 at 4:20 am

    Try making a dent in cocaine and fentanyl in florida before you over-govern the children again…. Impotent legislators and sleepy law enforcement.

  • Lex

    February 21, 2024 at 7:53 am

    Vaping is not a market that I want to “thrive” any more than I want the “tobacco” market to thrive. I may stop short of a ban, but that does not mean we should not put them farther from schools. Things that make vaping harder are GOOD. Taxes on vaping are just fine, it is a better place to tax than an average thing. Vaping was supposed to be a way for people to stop smoking slowly. Instead, vaping has become something “cool” that children need to be educated to be just as scared of as tobacco.

  • Robert Parker

    February 21, 2024 at 8:33 am

    They should rename this bill to what is actually means:
    The Cigarette Protection Act

  • Considaret Carsten Leonhard Knudsen

    February 22, 2024 at 1:01 am

    Since smoke delivers toxic tar to the lungs and vape delivers toxic layers of melted sugar to the lungs , both including addictive levels of nicotine, its importent to regulate these products from “consumers” accessibility.
    Considaret works smokefree and dampfree and sprayfree and mistfree and powderfree… with the most pleasureable fragrances carefully selected from nature, to bring the full relaxable satisfaction not hazardously. Need further information: is open.

  • VapeBoss

    March 3, 2024 at 1:08 pm

    The proposed legislation in Florida aims to restrict the sale of vape products to only those approved by the FDA, mainly products from Big Tobacco companies. While supporters argue it’s necessary to protect consumers, opponents, including vape industry representatives, criticize it for potentially favoring Big Tobacco and limiting consumer choice.

Comments are closed.


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