If you sell e-cigarettes (or any other tobacco products), you must comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations for retailers.
These laws are designed to curb the use of e-cigarettes and make them less attractive to youth.
If you want to open a vape shop or a business that sells e-cigarettes, here’s what you need to know about licensing requirements.
What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes or vaping products use a battery to heat up liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver cannabinoids such as marijuana, and other drugs.
E-cigarettes come in different shapes and sizes. Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes or other everyday items (e.g., pens and flash drives). These devices also have a variety of names, including e-cigs, vapes, vape pens, dab pens, tanks, mods, pro-mods, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
Changing regulatory landscape
E-cigarettes have surged in use in the past decade, and the retail regulatory landscape has changed rapidly to keep pace.
In December 2019, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was amended to raise the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years, making it illegal to sell these products — including e-cigarettes — to anyone under 21. The Act also applies to active-duty military personnel or veterans aged 18 to 20.
The law evolved again in 2020, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moved to limit children’s access to certain flavored e-cigarette products, including fruit and mint. At that time, the FDA finalized an enforcement policy that required companies to cease manufacturing, distributing, and selling these products within 30 days or risk enforcement actions. The policy does not apply to non-cartridge-based disposable products.
In recent years, some U.S. states and cities have also moved to impose flavor and online sales bans for e-cigarettes and related products.