VILLAGE OF HARTLAND — The village board on Tuesday night, Feb. 13, agreed to help a local business fight new e-cigarette rules by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which the business said could cause it to shut down.
The FDA in August wrote new rules for the manufacturers and sellers of tobacco products, which include e-cigarettes. The rules do a number of things, such as require warning labels and prohibit the sale of products to those younger than 18.
However, it's the rule that would require approval for every product introduced after February 2007 that the leaders of Hartland-based e-cigarette juice manufacturer Johnson Creek Enterprises fear could put them out of business.
Johnson Creek has more than 200 e-liquids that were all introduced to the market after 2007, according to Heidi Braun, president and chief operating officer of Johnson Creek. She said each application could cost about $1 million, which would cost the company about $200 million if it submitted an application for each flavor.
“We're absolutely for regulation, but we're for stable and right regulation," Braun told the village board. "Not something that could put us out of business or cost us millions of dollars.”
Village involvement could help. According to Linda Hansen of the Electronic Vaping Coalition of America, federal laws allow local governments to interfere with federal agencies if regulations or laws will affect a business within its boundaries. Hansen told the village board the law has been used often and effectively to interfere with federal rules.
Johnson Creek was the first company to sell e-liquid in the U.S., according to its website. It distributes to more than 120 countries and sells to some of the largest manufacturers in the business, including Fin and Blu.
In her appeal to the village board for help working with the FDA, Braun pointed out that her company paid about $380,000 in rent last year and employs about 50 people who live, shop and spend money in the village.
Braun said her company has been a responsible player in the e-cigarette industry since Day 1 by including on its packages child safety caps, shrink wrap and warning labels.
Village Trustee Rick Stevens said he's used an e-cigarette for about two years, and the device helped him kick his cigarette habit after more than 50 years.
E-liquid comes in different strengths of nicotine, and he said he's now using a liquid that contains no nicotine.
“You're hooked on the nicotine; you're not hooked on tobacco. I don't know what the big problem is,” Stevens said.
The village board voted unanimously to work with the FDA to defend Johnson Creek. Village President David Lamerand told Braun that he supported and welcomed the company in Hartland.
“Thank you for picking Hartland to have your business,” Lamerand said. “We love your business.”