Tariffs May Inadvertently Change The U.S. Vaping Industry

Trade War May Effect Vaping

In the U.S., vapers are no strangers to the effects of government policies on their lives, but it rarely happens as indirectly as it will soon.

When the President announced new tariffs on imports from China, the effect on the vaping industry was likely the furthest thing from his mind. Unlike other regulations, this particular action is not meant to directly affect vaping, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t.

In its broadest form, the act is set to subject Chinese imports to a 25% tariff when they fall in to certain categories. There are hundreds of different products that will see this increase as the tariffs attempt to drive the prices of these products up in an effort to entice distributors and manufacturers to bring their industry back to the US.

Notably, this idea could very well clash with the FDAs infamous “August 8th” market freeze on new vaping product sales. Without new products being available for sale, this could inadvertently set the industry and consumer safety back several years in the process.

When it comes to vaping, the ramifications are pretty clear. Most of your “big company” mods come from China, as do most, if not all, vape batteries. The general idea behind a tariff is to make domestic products more appealing through price: the import items cost more when there’s an import tax added on. Fortunately, much of the e-liquid we use is produced state-side, so the effects on refill bottles shouldn’t change any more than normal. The same might not be able to be said for atomizers.

This action comes while the FDA continues to analyze flavors in vaping. The period for public comment on this issue has just closed. Expect them to make their preliminary decision soon, once they sift through the 255,000 potentially fraudulent anti-flavor comments that flooded their system from a select few as yet unidentified sources.

It is not necessarily the next step in further regulation of the vape industry, but it’s still easy to see how this might change a few things. First, products that come from China will likely see a price increase. There’s no definitive amount to expect, but industry experts claim that it will result in a fairly large price hike, followed by slow price reduction until the “sweet spot” is found to balance out the tariff expenses. Secondly, and even more speculatively, we could see many more American made devices start popping upin the near future whether they be re-releases of older compliant hardware, without more current safety measures, or new, safer releases in conflict with the August 8th market freeze. With either or both scenarios we are likely to see prices higher than they are right now. Still beats the prices of early vape devices, but it’s not ideal.

Because the mission of tariffs is to help America’s economy the Trade Commission is going to have a public hearing on July 24th to receive comments from businesses that have signed up to speak. It’s not likely to have any real effect on this particular issue, but the Trade Commission is a commerce organization, making these businesses their constituents. 

Thank you for reading our article: Tariffs May Inadvertently Change The U.S. Vaping Industry. If you have questions or comments chime in below.


  • Eric Meuser

    Whats wrong with buying products manufactured in the United States? Am I missing somerhing here? China isnt exactly known for quality, honesty or safety. Remember automotive coolant toothpaste?

    I dont nind paying a little more for American made products if the quality is there – in fact I prefer it that way.

    In addition, based on China’s military build up and aggressive expansion in the South China Sea, I fail to see how they can be considered our friends or friends of our allies in that part if the world.

    I certainly dont want to help fund the building of their next nuclear submarine.

    Thanks for letting me share how I see it.

    • JFive

      Hey Eric,
      Don’t get me wrong, I also prefer quality American-made products over the alternative, and also don’t believe that China should be considered allies or even could be given their policies, etc, but the FDA does not allow the sale of new vape products in this country, legally speaking. Until they do, our only option will continue to be Chinese-made products at a steeper price than normal. Granted, those products that have been introduced after the infamous August 8th 2016 regulation already operate outside of that legal zone, but the unintended consequences of these tariffs could be very damaging to the American vaping industry due to their “no new products” rule. At this point it is pure speculation, but I believe it is a good idea to consider this potential as the FDA continues to make the rounds in this industry.

      Thanks for the comment and the conversation!

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