TFN – Practical Consequences of a Potential Game Changer In E-Liquid
By now you've probably heard of Tobacco-Free Nicotine, or TFN. This nicotine is created in a laboratory setting, completely synthesized from chemical compounds. It contains no plant matter, whether it be from tobacco or any of the other plants that contain nicotine, like tomatoes or broccoli.
We've had a chance to test some TFN direct from HiLiq, one of the few manufacturers currently producing the substance. We were impressed. Not only is it now possible to create liquids that are truly, verifiably free of tobacco products of any sort, TFN is quite possibly the cleanest-tasting nicotine on the market – it made any flavor extract we threw at it taste better, but delicate fruits were especially crisp compared to even high-end nicotine extracted from tobacco plants.
Seriously, it's good. Give it a try for yourself – we've been on the lookout for brands sourcing TFN and have been adding them as fast as we can get our hands on tobacco-free products. Here are a few of our favorites as of last month. Beyond great flavor, though, there are a few practical consequences of what TFN could mean for the FDA's deeming regulations as they relate not only to e-liquid but to vapor hardware. According to a recent report from ECigIntelligence, a market-research firm that explores the vaping world from a business perspective, TFN *may* fall outside the scope of the FDA, at least for now. But there's a huge catch. "[I]t’s possible that a disposable, closed system device that contains an e-liquid with truly zero nicotine (or synthetic nicotine) would not be regulated by the FDA as a tobacco product, if it is not intended or reasonably be expected to be used in such a fashion," states the most recent revision to the FDA's FAQ regarding deeming regulations, as ECigIntelligence points out. These are important caveats – "a disposable, closed-system device." Vapers, the FDA is convinced, are just dying to get their hands on some TFN juice and mix in their own tobacco-derived nicotine, thus creating a tobacco product out of something that isn't. Therefore, unless it's contained in a sealed, disposable cigalike cartridge, TFN liquids could be considered a "component" of a tobacco product.
This is the same logic used to declare mods, empty tanks, zero-nicotine liquids, and even batteries to be "tobacco products" falling under their regulatory purview. There may be some debate as to whether adding tobacco to a TFN product that already contains whatever level of nicotine the user was seeking is "intended or reasonably expected," but that's outside our scope. What does this mean? For one, it's a huge boost for Big Tobacco, whose primary vapor products are exactly the disposable, closed-system cigalikes the FDA has said they might not regulate as tobacco. But it's also an opportunity for some of the new, improved cigalikes like the Juul or the BO One Pod. If anyone in the vapor industry has an edge on dodging the FDA's deeming regulations, it seems it would be makers of liquid for the closed-system cigalikes – and premium juice lines have been finding their way into closed-system pods for some time now.
Take the My. Von Erl as an example. Of course, ECigIntelligence is quick to point out that this situation is likely temporary at best. Once they get done sorting out all of the new regulations that are already coming down the pike, it's likely the FDA will turn its attention back to TFN and find a way to regulate it as a non-tobacco substance. Until then, we'll be watching for further developments.