New FDA e-cigarette regulations anger business owners

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Local business owners say the Food and Drug Administration's new regulations on electronic cigarettes could end their businesses.

The FDA's new rules treat e-cigarettes like regular cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, banning minors from buying them and making manufacturers register their products.

A Texas law has prohibited shops from selling e-cigarettes to minors since 2015. The issue for business owners in Texas is registration, which the FDA is saying could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per product. Dustin Sovern makes mouthpieces for e-cigarettes, and hears it could cost much more.

"At least a million dollars per product," said Sovern. "And there's no guarantee that my product would be approved, and it's a non-refundable fee."

The rules are also likely to affect small shop owners like Misty Burke in Woodway. The regulations apply to every e-cigarette-related product made after 2007, which in Burke's store, is everything she has in stock.

"What product am I going to be able to sell, you know, if nobody's able to go through the application process," said Burke. "We're not going to be able to have any products to sell."

She says her only hope is for congress to pass H.R. 2058, a bill in the U.S House of Representatives that could give shop owners and manufacturers two years to get rid of their inventory, but still have to register everything after that period.

Dustin Sovern says it would give him more time to recover some of his money, but he would probably still have to close his business.

"It means I'm going to lose my job, it means I'm gonna have to find a different way to pay the bills," said Sovern. "I got married less than two months ago, and my business is being ripped away."