Introduction: Vape shops represent prominent, unique retailers, subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation in the United States.
Aims and methods: This study assessed compliance of US vape shop retail marketing strategies with new regulations (eg, required age verification, prohibited free samples) and pre-implementation conditions for other regulations (eg, health warning labels on all nicotine products, required disclosures of e-liquid contents).
Results: 95.0% of shops displayed minimum-age signage; however, mystery shoppers were asked for age verification at 35.6% upon entry and at 23.4% upon purchase. Although 85.5% of shops had some evidence of implementing FDA health warnings, 29.1% had signage indicating prohibited health claims, 16.3% offered free e-liquid samples, 27.4% had signage with cartoon imagery, and 33.3% were within two blocks of schools. All shops sold open-system devices, 64.8% sold closed-system devices, 68.2% sold their own brand of e-liquids, 42.5% sold e-liquids containing cannabidiol, 83.2% offered price promotions of some kind, and 89.9% had signage for product and price promotions.
Conclusions: Results indicated that most shops complied with some implementation of FDA health warnings and with free sampling bans and minimum-age signage. Other findings indicated concerns related to underage access, health claims, promotional strategies, and cannabidiol product offerings, which call for further FDA and state regulatory/enforcement efforts.
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