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In a Battle Royale shaping up in the U.S. legislature, the results on regulation for vaping and e-cigarette products are going to set the stage for health outcomes years from now.
New reports are showing pressure from vaping and e-cigarette groups on the Senate Committee for Appropriations as that committee considers grandfathering dates and other details for regulating non-tobacco smoking products. Apparently, what lawmakers decide could influence whether vaping companies keep going, or fold under pressure.
One issue is the grandfather date on products, because of something called the premarket tobacco applications process or PMTA. Currently, the FDA has set the grandfather date at February 15, 2007. Unfortunately, the majority of electric cigarette products made it to market past February. White House agencies are looking at the FDA’s proposed rule. Why is this important? Experts in the industry estimate that the PMTA process for a single company selling vaping and e-cigarette products can cost up to $10 million. Logically, most vaping and e-cigarette companies will not be able to recoup this money, and so it doesn’t make sense for them to keep selling products.
Advocates are trying to get the Senate committee to put in specific language to future bills to waive this process for more vaping and e-cigarette products.
A Big Name Comes Out for Vaping
In an interesting wrinkle in Washington, the vaping and e-cigarette lobby is getting help from a prominent name in U.S. politics. None other than Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform has asked the FDA to be lenient on vaping and e-cigarette products, and to change the FDA’s proposed date to reflect that.
“Unlike smokers, adult vapor product consumers are becoming single-issue voters who correctly attribute their switch from combustible tobacco products to smoke free alternatives like e-cigarettes to saving their lives.” Norquist said.
There are a number of ways to parse this political salvo — one is that you could see Norquist’s group advocating for free market use of more loosely regulated products in the same way that Americans for Tax Reform pursued a less stringent tax code for Americans. You could also say that Norquist may be more attuned to the ideas and emotions of single-issue voters because of his past work on taxes. However, Norquist also makes an appeal to efforts at smoking cessation, which are extremely important to government offices, insurance companies and health advocates, as well as HR offices around the country, and this point is not something to brush under the rug. It’s not political – it’s more universal.
“To crush this new and emerging industry would reverse decades of efforts to get people to quit smoking.” Norquist added.
This is really at the crux of a lot of arguments for vaping and e-cigarette products, and for less draconian regulation. People are afraid that too much regulation on these products would hurt the anti-smoking trends that are gathering steam around the country. We’ve made amazing and remarkable progress in just the last few years in stamping out smoking for good. But vaping and e-cigarette products play a role. If they are gone, or harder to get, won’t it be harder for people to quit smoking?