The Trump administration has proposed another series of tariffs on trade rival China which could impact the vapers in the United States if enacted.
These tariffs could go into effect in as little as one month from now.
The 52-year-old is a Donald Trump supporter who agrees with the president’s efforts to crack down on China’s trade practices, but it’s hitting close to home. The next round of proposed duties -- 25 percent on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports that could go into effect in a month -- includes vaping devices. Most e-cigarettes are made in China, leaving Robbins and his peers without an alternative.
“It might be good for the trade deficit in the long run, but how many stores is it going to put out of business in the short term?” Robbins said.
Robbins, whose e-cigarette devices sell for $25 to $130, says the tariffs will mean higher prices that will depress sales -- hampering the growth of a nascent market. He and other advocates are pressing the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to spare the devices on grounds they will cost American jobs, won’t change China’s trade behavior and could push more people to go back to smoking cigarettes.
The potential tariffs would hit the surging industry as it faces efforts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to limit sales to minors and regulate vaping flavors. A slowdown would also hurt mall and shopping centers, where vape shops have been a bright spot by filling empty spaces from store closings and retail bankruptcies.
“Yes, it will hurt consumers, yes, it will hurt the industry,” said Tony Abboud, executive director of the Vapor Technology Association, a trade group representing more than 600 manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retail shops. “It is a dramatic impact, especially for anybody who’s low or middle income.”
Vaping advocates have asked to testify at a public hearing July 24 and 25 in Washington on the next round of 25 percent tariffs, which includes their products. Robbins is among more than two dozen shop owners, customers and advocates from 10 states who submitted online comments opposing the proposal.
While the U.S. produces e-liquid for vaping, most of the devices, parts and components sold in the U.S. are manufactured in China, according to Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit advocacy group. Ninety-one percent of the $342.3 million customs value of U.S. e-cigarette imports came from China in 2016, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report.
These tariffs may not immediately effect your local vape shop or favorite retailer but prices will adjust fairly quickly to reflect the increased cost.
This prices will only effect imports from China to the United States, which will not directly effect any other country.
It will be interesting to see how the American vape industry, as well as Chinese manufacturers, react to the changes.