Tobacco products are understandably a hot and controversial regulatory issue. But what is surprising is that vapor products, only some of which have a visual appearance similar to cigarettes, but all of which contain no tobacco and provide a much healthier and safer choice for smokers, seem to be attracting an even greater level of interest from federal regulators.
A final rule is under review by the Office of Management and Budget which would deem vapor products, like electronic cigarettes, to be subject to even more heavy duty FDA regulation than the rules to which traditional tobacco cigarettes are subjected. This makes no sense, and it is a huge loss for public health and is counter-productive to over-regulate a new, innovative product that satisfies adult consumers without subjecting them to the health risks of traditional burning tobacco.
If the FDA’s regulatory approach is implemented, it will effectively prohibit vapor products. Dr. Michael Siegel, a Boston University community health sciences profession has said, “This is not really regulation. It’s prohibition.” Dr. Siegel is right — the new rule would reconfirm the statutory predicate date for all the cigarette products that existed 9 years ago —before vapor products hit the market. By denying the newer and safer vapor products the benefits of “grandfathering,” the FDA creates a bizarre regulatory world that turns rationality on its head. Big brands like Marlboro and Camel and Newport tobacco products would be exempted from certain regulations because they existed before 2007. But vapor products — that contain no tobacco and are far less dangerous — are regulated under the most draconian rules simply because they didn’t exist nine years ago and therefore miss the arbitrary predicate date. This makes no sense even if vapor products were similar to cigarettes from a health perspective. But given that vapor products function differently and deliver far fewer chemicals than a burning cigarette, and are viewed by many in the public health community as a healthier alternative for smokers that moves smokers from the clutches of big tobacco, it verges on the inane to regulate them to the point of prohibition.
The signers of this letter may differ on whether current tobacco regulations are effective and appropriate. But we are completely united on this very important point — vapor products are not tobacco products and thus it makes no more sense to regulate them as tobacco, than it does to regulate orange juice as beer.
Here is the undeniable truth — vapor products have been tested to satisfy consumers desire to switch and at the same time, they are a healthy choice. The FDA’s top voice for regulating tobacco, Mitch Zeller, has repeatedly stated that “If we could get all those people [who smoke] to completely switch all of their cigarettes to noncombustible cigarettes, it would be good for public health.”
Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona has also pointedly stated the health benefits of vapor products, sometimes called electronic or e-cigarettes: “Based on what we know today, there is broad agreement that e-cigarette use is significantly safer than cigarette smoking.”
The Tobacco Control Act’s regulatory approach is not an appropriate way to regulate products that are not tobacco. The FDA’s regulatory approach appears to deny this basic truth.
Aside from the obvious healthcare benefits of vapor products and more and more smokers choosing to switch from tobacco to vapor e-cigarettes, there is also the opportunity for job growth and innovation. Vapor technology is driven, by small and mid-sized businesses, not mega-firms. Smaller businesses have a much more difficult time shouldering oppressive regulatory burdens. If we want to see jobs growing across the nation and in every community, Congress must control the insatiable urge of some federal regulators to grant themselves a central role in imposing burdensome regulations on every new technology — particularly when those technologies will ultimately improve public health.
We call upon Congress to act quickly to block these FDA regulations. On the next “must-pass” legislative vehicle, Congress should include language that either delays the so-called Deeming Rule on tobacco for at least 24 months or fixes its more offensive flaw — the silly and artificial 2007 predicate date. If Congress does not act, vapor products like e-cigarettes will be regulated far more strictly than traditional tobacco cigarettes — something that will harm public health and destroy many small businesses. There is no plausible excuse for inaction.
George Landrith, Frontiers of Freedom
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Heather Higgins, Independent Woman’s Voice
Harry Alford, National Black Chamber of Commerce
Phil Kerpen, American Commitment
Mario Lopez, Hispanic Leadership Fund
Seton Motley, Less Government
Sabrina Schaeffer, Independent Woman’s Forum
Gregory T. Angelo, Log Cabin Republicans
Alex St. James, Blacks Economic Security Trust (Best)
Andrew Langer, Institute for Liberty