With the FDA working tirelessly to regulate the vaporizer market, there's been a spike in illegal, underground vaporizer operations that pose a significant risk to Americans all over the country. For a fraction of the price but a multiplied risk, Americans can source counterfeit vaporizer products that contain heavy metals, vitamin E acetate, and pesticides. Unfortunately, keeping Americans safe from the black market is nearly impossible, despite the FDA's best efforts.
Vaporizer Black Market
The vaporizer black market includes everything from past legal vape brands that failed to meet new FDA regulations to counterfeit products from China. Over the past few years, counterfeit vaporizer products have caused up to 530 illnesses and 9 deaths among 38 states, a staggering and terrifying number for smokers.
Black-market vaporizing products often get their appeal due to their unbeatable pricing. For a fraction of the price of disposable vape products, customers can purchase cartridges that contain dangerous contaminants such as pesticides, vitamin E acetate, and heavy metals. Manufacturers use a multitude of harmful products to thicken the THC and bring down the cost of production. Smokers of counterfeit vaping products report an immediate sharpness in the chest and coughing for days following inhalation. Other common side effects include headaches and nausea.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to distinguish black-market vaping products from legal vaporizers. Counterfeit vaporizers are often a result of Chinese manufacturers following legal producers on Instagram and carefully copying the design, marketing, and packaging of legal products. This production line makes it difficult for the everyday consumer to tell legal versus illegal vaping products apart. Some illegal vaping shops will go to great lengths of charging tax and displaying fake licenses on the wall.
For vapers who are actively trying to avoid black-market purchases, some common discrepancies to look out for are unlabeled hardware and irregular SKUs. Legal products that are sold nationally will have the necessary packaging, as outlined by the FDA. As consumers, it's our responsibility to exercise our due diligence and avoid supporting the vaporizer black market.
Black-market vaping not only poses a risk to consumers but also creates a negative association with legal vaping companies. For companies who closely follow FDA regulations and manufacture safe, legal products, the adverse effects on their reputation are disheartening. Overall, the vaping black market has had a significantly unfortunate impact on the United States' vaping industry.
The FDA has gone to great lengths to regulate the vaping industry to offer Americans the safest and highest-quality products on the market. Since vaping has become mainstream, the FDA has demanded regulation of the "manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution" of all vaping products. The FDA's control of the market has resulted in many mainstream companies going underground due to their inability to meet new regulations. With many companies going rogue, there has been a significant challenge posed to the FDA that they have worked tirelessly to fight.
Unfortunately, this has been a losing battle. With so many black-market vaping companies that have infiltrated the industry, it's been nearly impossible for the FDA to regulate. However, they have managed to put their citizens' health and wellness at the forefront of their work. As more deaths and illnesses have surfaced, the FDA has announced that these will be considered criminal acts and can be charged accordingly.
FDA Compliance has also responded to the vaporizer black market by testing vaporizer cartridges for THC potency and the presence of heavy metals and pesticides. Proactive testing has ensured that only safe and effective products are on the market for legal purchase.
Unfortunately, vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent, is not currently regulated. Though it's not known to be harmful to the skin, the long-term effects on the lungs are unknown.
With the black market overtaking the vaporizer industry, American citizens' health is at risk. Despite the FDA's best efforts to regulate the industry, there is still significant room for advancement. Some of the best ways to avoid purchasing black-market vaporizers are to support well-known stores with good reputations and to become educated on the black market. As consumers, it's our responsibility to be mindful about purchasing legal products from health-conscious producers.