We now know that PMTA is delayed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. What does that mean for your business? The eJuices.co team is here to help, and in our latest Ask The Expert segment, we interview Alex Mazzola, the founder of Mob Liquid and Flavor Vapors, LLC. Mazzola is also the president of the Nevada Vaping Association (NVA).
Now that PMTA is extended, do you expect there to be major changes between now and September 9? What do you think they will be and will it affect any flavor bans already in place?
I think we are all in the same spot we were in before Covid-19 and the extension, we have an additional 120 days but most small manufacturers are still very concerned on how the FDA will accept our PMTA's. They have never been straight forward on giving us an application to fill out and submit and unfortunately for them, this is also new to them because they don't have 5 large tobacco companies applying they have thousands of registered small manufacturers applying. Our applications and submissions should be better outlined and not the same as Big Tobacco because our products are helping millions and in turn, it will help our health care throughout the USA and the entire world. We should have been in our own category and had nothing to do with Big Tobacco. The only thing that links us to them is nicotine, other than that we are totally different, is that according to UK health officials, vaping eliminates 95% of the issues associated with combustible smoking.
American Vaping Association (AVA) president Gregory Conley spoke of opening up a vital dialogue with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). What could be part of that dialogue? Could it possibly be the Trump administration's proposal to spin tobacco products under a new agency under HHS? Why or why not?
Gregory Conley is a personal friend of mine and has done so much for this industry, he really is an amazing guy always fighting for us since the beginning. I agree that we need to have our State leaders as well as our larger organizations to start to reach out to our health departments and make those contacts for them to realize we are on the same team. We need them to do more research themselves so they can see that our products are much much safer and we have a product that can finally beat Big Tobacco and take them down for once in many years. The lawsuits never took them down but we are the group that can with our new innovative products (ecigs). Our products are made to help and take people’s addiction from one level to a lower level until they can quit. I think if more doctors start to better educate the doctors that are against us the farther we can move forward once they see the truth.
Across the nation, there are many shops refusing to comply with shelter-in-place orders because vape shops consider themselves essential services. This is also something we here at eJuices.co endorse. What could be an angle for vape shops to justify their existence as an essential service given the variation in strictness and enforcement of shelter-in-place orders by state and even by locality?
I think that not just our industry but most businesses are essential to someone so I disagree with our Governors having a stay at home order because when you go shopping or even to Home Depot they are packed with people that are just walking around with NO masks or anything so it really makes no sense. Then you have Walmart and some of these places instead of staying open 24/7 like before they close at a certain hour which in return makes more people gather together because you have the same customers needing things but fewer hours to do their shopping. You either close everything down or you put different rules and regulations to follow such as six feet apart and or masks must be worn in businesses, I believe that would have been a better option and still not killed our economy like they are doing now.
Shop owners are already under pressure from COVID-19 and even with a new PMTA deadline, there may still be uncertainty. What do you advise for shops to do from a legal perspective?
Shop owners need to stay focused on what they do, help people quit smoking, get back to the roots of what our business was started for, and how we became as large of an industry as we have. Maybe they could bring in more products to be more like a convenience store can help them with revenue, either way, it's easier said than done. Shops are closing and shops are opening at the same time and some succeed and some don't, so that has to do with a lot of business skills and sometimes it can just be a bad location. I would say make sure you keep in constant contact with your customers and let them know what they mean to you. If you take care of your customers they usually stay pretty loyal even if someone else is offering the same products for a little bit cheaper. Price wars are not good for the industry at all nobody usually wins.
What suggestions do you have right now for vape shops to make revenue in light of COVID? If and when PMTA goes through, what are the possible options since there may be a decrease in manufacturer selection?
I think this is a question for them to ask their own customers. I would ask them what other products would you be happy if we carried to maybe save you a trip to another shop or location? I have never been in the retail game in this industry so I don't know the answer to this question, but I would see what is hot in the industry or even outside of the industry and take the opportunities to bring some new and exciting products in.
That’s all for our Ask the Expert segment! If you have any questions, you can always contact your eJuices.co account manager or sales representative.