Congress has just about two weeks to alter critical regulations that could spell the end of America’s e-cigarette industry and massively curtail choice for the country’s nine million vapers.
A rider attached to the omnibus spending bill would change Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules requiring all e-cigarette products released after February 15, 2007, to undergo the costly Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process.
The rider would push the FDA’s proposed date from February 15, 2007, to 30 days after a new regulation is published in the federal register, effectively saving roughly 99 percent of the fledgling industry. This provision is of vital importance to the e-cigarette market because the cost of the PMTA process for each individual product can run between $2-10 million.
Vaping businesses — which typically sell dozens if not hundreds of these products in their stores — will not be able meet this financial burden, putting thousands of jobs at risk and limiting options for vapers.
Since e-cigarettes are a relatively new innovation and the industry has grown so rapidly, the vast majority of vaping products would fall under the FDA’s proposed rule, which would likely bankrupt 99 percent of the industry.
“The proposed FDA regulation would ban 99.9 percent of the 100,000-plus vapor products available on the market today unless the grandfather date is changed,” says President of American Vaping Association Gregory Conley.
The FDA rule stems from the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which gave the agency the power to regulate tobacco products and products containing nicotine derived from tobacco. In 2014, the FDA said it would regulate vaping products as “tobacco products.”
Opposition to the provision to save the e-cigarette industry from the FDA comes from public health activists in the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Lung Association. The groups claim a change to the rules would exempt vaping products from vital safety regulations.
But this may not be the whole story, according to Conley. “Anti-harm-reduction activists are not being honest about their motives in opposing this bill. This change is not about stopping the FDA from regulating vapor products; it is about preventing the FDA from banning nearly every product on the market today. The truth is that these groups want vapor products to be banned.”
Vapers have also received some strong backup from the President of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist, who wrote a letter Tuesday to members of Congress urging them to alter the rules before it’s too late.