PMTA Registry Bills Threaten Vaping Freedom in Multiple States

A new kind of restrictive vape product law is rapidly gaining traction in state legislatures. So far this year, over a dozen so-called PMTA registry (or directory) bills have been introduced. The bills are promoted to state lawmakers by tobacco companies seeking to protect themselves from competition.

The new bills follow the same outline as laws passed over the last two years in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alabama. A state establishes a registry (or directory) of products that may legally be sold in that state, which is maintained by a state agency. Manufacturers, distributors or sellers of products who want to add them to the registry must attest under penalty of perjury that the products are either authorized for sale by an FDA marketing granted order (MGO), or are still undergoing review by the agency. There is typically a one-time or recurring fee for each product registered, and the products are listed on a public website.

Because relatively few popular vape shop products meet all the requirements of a PMTA registry law, the laws create a huge advantage for tobacco companies (and one major independent vape manufacturer) that do have qualifying products. They also make it simple for law enforcement to target vape shops, which usually don’t sell tobacco industry vape products.

The bills provide an easy way for lawmakers to tell constituents—who may be frightened by ongoing news stories about a youth vaping “epidemic”—that they’ve done something to stem the vaping tide and protect kids. In reality, the laws will create a real black market where unregulated, untaxed products are sold on social media and shady websites to anyone with money to pay.

Which states are considering PMTA registry bills?
Here is a list of states with introduced PMTA registry bills. Some are brand new, and some have already advanced to hearings and pose an immediate danger to vaping consumers and businesses in their state.

We have included links to the bills themselves (if there are separate house and senate bills, usually there is just one link), and a second link if the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) has issued a call to action for state residents.

CASAA usually issues a call to action when a bill is rapidly gaining interest among legislators, committee hearings have been scheduled, or hearings are expected soon. In other words, if CASAA has issued a call to action, the bill is a serious and immediate threat and responses from vaping and nicotine consumers are needed right away to convince legislators to oppose the registry bill.

Remember, just because a bill hasn’t yet gotten a call to action doesn’t mean it won’t start moving any day. And if your state isn’t currently facing a threat, one could pop up at any time. If you join CASAA (which is free), you’ll be notified about calls to action in your state when they happen.

You can see all active CASAA calls to action on this page, below the map.

Arizona – Bill SB 1212 – CASAA Call to Action
Florida – Bills H 1007 / S 1006 – CASAA Call to Action
Hawaii – Bills SB 3385 / HB 2794
Indiana – Bill SB 227 – CASAA Call to Action
Iowa – Bill SB 3101 – CASAA Call to Action
Missouri – Bill HB 2211
Nebraska – Bill LB 1296 – CASAA Call to Action
New Hampshire – Bill HB 1591 – doesn’t establish a registry, but bans sales of products without a PMTA or proof of pending FDA review
New York – Bill A 3404
Oklahoma – Bill HB 3971 – amends existing PMTA registry law to strengthen penalties
South Carolina – Bill S 994 – CASAA Call to Action
South Dakota – Bill SB 116 – CASAA Call to Action
Vermont – Bill HB 729
(Urgent: Vermont is currently holding hearings for bill S 18, which would ban the sale of all flavored vapes, nicotine pouches and smokeless tobacco. There is an active CASAA call to action for this flavor ban bill.)
Virginia – Bills HB 1069 / SB 550 – CASAA Call to Action
Washington State – Bill SB 6118 – CASAA Call to Action
West Virginia – Bills SB 545 / HB 5038

Other bills
CASAA has issued calls to action for several other bills in various states that are not PMTA registry bills. If you live in these states, please take action:

·Hawaii – HB 1778: flavor ban and preemption repeal – CASAA Call to Action
·Michigan – multiple bills: flavor ban, 57 percent tax – CASAA Call to Action
·Rhode Island – H 7225: 80% wholesale tax – CASAA Call to Action
·Vermont – S 18: flavor ban – information noted above

Why does Big Tobacco favor PMTA registries?
The FDA has so far authorized just seven e-liquid-based vaping devices (six of which are still being sold), and a handful of tobacco-flavored refill cartridges or pods. All are made by subsidiaries of three major tobacco companies.

The FDA is still reviewing premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs) for many other products, including Juul Labs’ JUUL device and R.J. Reynolds’ Vuse Alto, the most popular convenience store vape. PMTAs for nicotine pouches, including brands sold by Reynolds, Altria Group and Philip Morris International, are also still under review.

The products named above would all be exempted from enforcement in states with PMTA registry laws. But nearly all other popular products would be illegal to sell—including most disposable vapes and bottled e-liquid. PMTA registry laws make vape shops instant targets for law enforcement, which is a goal of the tobacco companies seeking to protect their inferior vape products from competition.

Aside from product eligibility, many small vape manufacturers and sellers simply don’t have the money and manpower to register hundreds or thousands of products in multiple states. But for the tobacco companies—with small product selections, office buildings full of employees, and billions of dollars in the bank—maintaining PMTA registry listings in a minor business detail.

That’s why CASAA refers to vape registry laws as “big tobacco protection acts.”

Vuse manufacturer R.J. Reynolds is known to be actively promoting the introduction and passage of PMTA registry laws. It isn’t certain if other big tobacco companies (or Juul) are actively lobbying for the entire batch of current PMTA registry bills, but according to vape industry advocate Nick Orlando, both Altria and Juul Labs have expressed support for the Florida registry bill.

Reynolds, which is now owned by British American Tobacco, has a long history of throwing its weight around to disrupt independent vaping manufacturers and sellers. Before the FDA finalized its Deeming Rule, granting itself regulatory authority over vaping products, Reynolds urged the agency to ban open-system (refillable) vapes, and to classify vape shops as tobacco manufacturers.

In the last year, Reynolds and BAT have taken multiple actions to promote restrictions and bans on disposable vapes, which are now collectively Reynolds’ biggest convenience store vape competitors.