Over the past few years, the tobacco industry has taken a savage beating from the new kid on the block, the e-cigarette. Many people feel that vaping has helped them to overcome their tobacco addiction and that their health has significantly improved since switching to an e-cig. Although this has not yet been scientifically proven there has been a surge in e-cigarette use, and vaping has been condoned by certain medical professionals since as far back as 2003, when UAB Professor Brad Rodu first asserted that using an e-cigarette was “vastly safer” than smoking tobacco. Now, at the turn of 2015, it seems that the vaping industry is taking a further step towards domination.
Despite its lucrative power, the world of vaping production and legislation is somewhat chaotic. The controversial FDA commissioner Dr Margaret Hamburg recently stated that the vaping industry is “like the wild, wild West” and that “companies can do whatever they want.” It is certainly true that unregulated industries provide freedom for producers, of whom a minority will always conduct illegitimate and unethical marketing practices without risk of detection. In theory, regulation would enforce a certain standard of quality and customer care, holding irresponsible or illegitimate producers accountable for their actions. Initially, the news of proposed FDA regulation of the industry in 2015 was welcomed by consumers and vendors alike. However, since the publication of the proposals themselves, things have gone a little sour.
There are currently 8 states (including Washington and New York) running draft bills imposing a sumptuary ‘sin tax’ on vaping, placing it alongside alcohol and tobacco as a highly taxable luxury product. These proposals have been viciously opposed by the likes of CASAA, who asserted that tactics such as the implementation of ‘sin taxes’ were “inappropriate for this product category” and that if carried through, “lawmakers will face little resistance when they decide to raise the tax to a more punitive level.”
CASAA have also opposed the proposed ‘Grandfather date’ of 2007, which could effectively see all FDA unapproved products released after that date banned. Reps Boehner, McCarthy & Upton have co-signed an appeal to Sylvia Burwell, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, asking to postpone the proposed ‘grandfather date’ until the regulations are finalized and put in place. The most controversial and contested element of the document lies in the FDA’s decision to charge costly application fees for an approval. For a new e-cigarette to be brought to market, it must first go through a lengthy and expensive approval process and meet FDA requirements. This added expense and bureaucratic obstruction will automatically reduce accessibility and the chances of fledgling producers breaking into the market, as well as generating untold amounts of money through the FDA.
While CASAA have acknowledged being “generally supportive of age restrictions,” they have also stated that they will approach the FDA’s age restriction proposals “with caution,” citing the potential for a dangerous “patchwork” system of legislation across the states that would vastly limit the transportability and legitimacy of e-cigarette products from state to state. This dangerous “patchwork” system has also been cited by CASAA as a danger in relation to the proposed labeling requirements, which could pose serious complications for vape producers in terms of meeting legal requirements at both state and federal level.
The FDA’s proposed rules have been met with outrage by certain pro-vaping lobbyists, who claim that the motives for regulation are purely financial and not based in consumer care. Huge sections of the tobacco industry’s profits have been poached, and more and more smokers kick the habit to become vapers each month. Chairman of the American Vaping Association and pro-vaping lobbyist Gregory Conley has stated that “vendors and vapers shoud vehemently OPPOSE these regulations, as they will work to the benefit of large tobacco and e-cigarette companies.” Other such anti-tobacco lobbyists have asserted that aspects of the proposed FDA regulations have been specifically designed to reset the balance of power, and channel money made in the e-cigarette market back into the pockets of tobacco bosses.
Everyone would like to see e-cigarettes regulated, but only for the right reasons and in the right way. Pro-vaping lobbyists have been working with FDA and the tobacco industry to try and find some common ground, and no one can deny that one way or another, regulation is a stage of evolution. 2015 is shaping up to be a crucial year in the history of vaping – here’s hoping that this landmark industry won’t be swallowed up by the very trade that it was formed to oppose.
You can sign your name on CASAA’s “thank you” petition and show your support for Boehner, McCarthy & Upton here, where you will also be able to keep up to date with the progress of the FDA rulings throughout the year. The FDA’s proposed rules document is available in full here at CASAA.
JG is the Customer Service Guru over at Kingly Vapes. Kingly Vapes: vaping gear fit for royalty!