July2 , 2022

Not a lot of vape shops applying for new nicotine permits

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One.

That’s how many vape shops have applied for and received permits to sell nicotine products under the new “Tobacco 21” law the Florida Legislature approved last spring.

“We’ve had one,” Daniel McGinn, assistant director of the Department of Business and Professional Regulations’ Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Division, told the House Regulatory Reform Committee Wednesday.

“One?” replied an incredulous-sounding Rep. Jackie Toledo, who had sponsored the House version of the bill. She had just asked him how many new Retail Nicotine Product Dealers Permits the department had issued under the new regulatory framework the Legislature created to deal with vape shops popping up all over the state.

The law went into effect Oct. 1.

The one properly-permitted vape shop is in Jacksonville. There will be more, McGinn assured the committee.

There also are 28,680 other stores that sell tobacco, and many of them also sell electronic cigarette products. They already have licenses — tobacco licenses — so they don’t need the new license, which was designed for shops that just sell electronic cigarette products and devices. The so-called “vape shops” now must be regulated and monitored to make sure they only sell to people age 21 or older, and meet other requirements, under Senate Bill 1080.

“The interesting thing about the new permit is these locations — you’re thinking of vape shops — were not ever regulated by the department before. So there is going to have to be a period of education where we go out and visit them,” McGinn said. “We’ll take applications with us and say, ‘hey, you need to come into compliance with this new licensure requirement.’ There’s no fee involved, so we don’t anticipate a lot of push-back.”

But.

“To find and locate these businesses across the state is going to take a little bit of outreach on our part,” he added.

SB 1080, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Travis Hutson, raised the age for purchase of all nicotine products, including cigarettes, to 21, in part to bring Florida into compliance with federal law, which already established 21 as the minimum age. The bill passed the House 103-13 and the Senate 29-9. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had vetoed a similar bill in 2020, signed it in May.

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