Roger Yale (L) with twin brother Chris Yale (L)

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, implied in 2016 that smokers who quit by using e-cigarettes don’t exist – calling these people “hypothetical individuals.”

It should also be noted that Zeller was also a previous political consultant for the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Nicorette Gum.

Make no mistake about it, Zeller – we exist.

An article on explained the nefarious nature of Zeller’s endgame, as well as the

“Zeller spearheaded the campaign to write new FDA e-cig regulations that would eliminate the competitive advantage that electronic cigarettes held over ‘The Patch,’ Nicorette Gum, and other similar smoking cessation products.  But the new regulations would also need to be marketed to the American Public in such a way that the typical voter would somehow view e-cigs as at least as deadly as traditional tobacco cigarettes, if not more. Who better to do this than anti-smoking advocacy groups like the American Cancer Society?”

Anybody smell conspiracy? Add Big Tobacco and its interest in holding on to market share, despite the fact that most cigarette companies have their own vape divisions, and the stench grows.

But the truth always comes to light, regardless of the deep pockets of the dishonest.


With Orit Deverell of Zuluvape in Myrtle Beach

Good thing there’s a new sheriff in town – or at least at the FDA – in the person of Scott Gottlieb, the organization’s new chief. Hopefully he will continue to muzzle Zeller, who still, unfortunately, has his job.

In a surprising turn of events for the beleaguered vape industry and for the millions of e-cigarette users who have successfully made the switch from cigarettes, the FDA on Friday announced sweeping changes to its policy regarding electronic cigarettes.

In a July press release, the FDA had this to say:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve as a multi-year roadmap to better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death. The approach places nicotine, and the issue of addiction, at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts. The goal is to ensure that the FDA has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. To make certain that the FDA is striking an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than cigarettes, the agency is also providing targeted relief on some timelines described in the May 2016 final rule that extended the FDA’s authority to additional tobacco products. The agency will also seek input on critical public health issues such as the role of flavors in tobacco products.”

Obviously, one of these “innovative tobacco products” is the electronic cigarette. Unfortunately, we will have to live with the word tobacco for now.

The deadline for product review applications has now been pushed to August 8, 2022 – a win by any definition for the vape industry as well as for consumers who have embraced the electronic cigarette as a step toward harm reduction.

Despite Big Tobacco’s best efforts to obfuscate the benefit of the electronic cigarette, the FDA under Gottlieb has begun to turn the tables.

Thursday, The Sun News in Myrtle Beach will run my story on the FDA’s Deeming Regulations and their impact on a local vape shop here, Zuluvape, and what owner Orit Deverell is doing to stay ahead of the regulatory curve.


Above: With Orit Deverell, owner of Zuluvape

I also had the pleasure of interviewing John Boynton, executive director of an organization called the South Carolina Vapor Industry association [SCVIA] – which is affiliated with the national trade advocacy group, the Vapor Technology Association – which lobbies at the federal level to give the vape industry a voice in Washington.


For the sake of keeping this story balanced, I also got some medical input at the local level from a family practitioner, Dr. Victor Archambeau, as well as a statement from Coastal Carolina University public health professor, Dr. Michael S. Dunn.

As some of you might know, I work in the cigar industry – specifically Tinder Box Myrtle Beach, under the umbrella of Tinder Box of the Carolinas. I am also a committed vaper, having given up traditional cigarettes for electronic cigarettes nearly three years ago.

The fact that the premium cigar industry and the vape industry are lumped into the same legislation by way of the FDA is a bit surprising and although these industries might be considered strange bedfellows – the strength of lobbying efforts has effectively doubled.

United we stand, right?

Here’s a peek online- and this is just the beginning.

FDA Regulations Impact Myrtle Beach-area Vape Retailers


I started smoking cigarettes in earnest in1981.

I was 17, and at that time idolized the iconic British playwright Sir Noel Coward, who more often than not had a cigarette in hand in most of his publicity photos spanning 50 years.

He died of a heart attack at 73, and biographer/life partner Graham Payn noted Coward’s circulation issues as early as ten years before his death.

“Noel was suffering from circulatory problems in his legs, but was lazy about taking any form of exercise beyond reaching for a cigarette,” he wrote.

Poor bastard.


Above photo: Noel Coward Society

I quit smoking cigarettes on Ash Wednesday – March 5, 2014, after 33 years. Calling this a dalliance would be a colossal understatement. This was a committed relationship – a marriage – and I loved cigarettes.

But I know they didn’t love me.

For a couple of years before this, I messed around with e-cigarettes – or more specifically, “cig-alikes,” those disposable numbers you can buy at convenience stores – and eventually bought myself a vape pen called a Joyetech eCab with a refillable cartridge, but I used these intermittently while continuing to smoke cigarettes.

But my daughter challenged me to lay down the cigarettes and vape exclusively for Lent in 2014 – and this time it stuck. I admit I stayed in bed the bulk of the morning on Ash Wednesday because I knew I would be tempted to light up as soon as I got up – so I stayed where I was until I was sure I wouldn’t.

By then, I had a few more e-cigs – this time of the variable voltage variety with a combination of tanks and a collection of e-liquids to back up my resolve. I picked up these items from a friend of mine at a local vape shop when I was writing a cover story for an alt-weekly about the vaping trend on the Grand Strand in 2013.

I roped by twin brother into doing the cover shoot with me, although he is not a vaper.

In that article, I profiled vape shop owners as well as several people who had given up traditional cigarettes in favor of vaping. I also explored the existing American Medical Association [AMA] data about a concept called harm reduction and spoke to a cardiologist, who told me that he could intuit that vaping was less harmful than cigarettes, based on his experience with his patients at the time.

When I finally got out of bed that Ash Wednesday, I began to vape exclusively and never looked back.

Rog Celeb Square New

By that time, the technology had improved, and variable voltage made a huge difference. I could tailor my “hit” to feel like it did when smoking cigarettes.

I knew from previous experience that this was an altogether different activity, and as such was not going to be identical to cigarette smoking – but it was a smooth transition and one that I don’t regret.

With the FDA attempting to impose its heavy hand on the vaping industry, I see a lot of dirty pool at play – most notably a total disregard for the legions of former cigarette smokers who now vape, and their stories. It seems like Big Tobacco is behind a scheme that would have us believe that cigarette smoking is the safer option.

That, my friends, smells like bullshit – and I aim to dig deeper.