Retailers contacted by CSP about the recent FDA actions responded with little surprise. “I believe this is one of many new initiatives from the FDA with the goal of helping create a healthier population from Scott Gottlieb’s viewpoint,” said Lonnie McQuirter, operator of the Minneapolis-based 36 Lyn Refuel Station. “His Twitter indicates that this is an issue he’s ready to act on and that he is not afraid to impose new policies against tobacco and their alternatives. While it may be some time off, I think nicotine reduction is becoming more and more a probable policy from the FDA.”

An executive at a West Coast chain questioned the FDA’s central argument regarding flavored products and underage users. “It’s a bit disingenuous, in my opinion, to reason that flavors are the driving force bringing an underaged population into the category,” the executive said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There has historically been underaged users of nicotine products, well before flavored vaping products hit the market. We see the same flavor proliferation in other product categories (beverages, snack products, etc.) so to make flavors the spotlighted villain in this discussion is a bit disingenuous.

“Don’t get me wrong: I’m 100% against targeting underaged users with flavors or packaging but I see through our sales data that of-age users are purchasing these products.”

Although critical of the FDA, the operator said retailers shouldn’t be let off the hook: “I’m very concerned there are other retailers allowing this product to get into the hands of underaged users. It’s very irresponsible, but also not reason for the FDA to potentially penalize responsible retailers.”

Lonnie McQuirter (pictured at left); Photograph by David Bowman