The FDA’s Looming Regulatory Onslaught Threatens the Freedom to Vape

 

shutterstock_299809835Americans who are trying to kick their nasty smoking habit have found healthier alternatives in e-cigarettes and vapor products that could, quite literally, save their lives. But the bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration are trying to put this $3.5 billion industry out of business.

Small mom-and-pop shops have sprung up across the country to meet the growing demand for vapor products, which allow users to refill their vaporizers with their favorite e-juices. Separately, big tobacco companies have invested in non-refillable e-cigarettes.

Though these products are not always tobacco-free; there’s no ash or smoke involved. But they do contain nicotine, which users can gradually reduce if they choose. E-cigarettes and vapor products contain far fewer chemicals and carcinogens than traditional tobacco cigarettes, making them safer for the users, as well as those around them. “[T]he levels of potentially problematic substances in e-cigarette aerosol,” Reason’s Jacob Sullum wrote in March, “are about the same as those detected in ambient air.”

Bureaucrats, who believe they know what’s best for Americans, are concerned the perceived dangers of this new trend and are poised to issue a rule that would require makers of these products to go through a costly regulatory process. Products on the market before February 2007 would be exempt from the rule, but any available after the “grandfathered” date would be subject to review.

Big tobacco companies that produce e-cigarettes would be able to absorb the regulatory costs, but producers of vapor products simply likely won’t be able to afford to comply. “[T]he FDA’s proposed regulations threaten to ban 99 percent-plus of vape products currently available on the market,” American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley said in June. One e-juice maker told the Wall Street Journal, “We call it vapocalypse.”

The concerns over safety appear to be misguided, though further study is needed. In August, Public Health England, a government agency in the United Kingdom, estimated that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes. The study also noted that these products “help most smokers to quit tobacco altogether.”

“E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm. The problem is people increasingly think they are at least as harmful and this may be keeping millions of smokers from quitting,” said Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England. “Local stop smoking services should look to support e-cigarette users in their journey to quitting completely.”

Some politicians and public health advocates have expressed worry that e-cigarette and vapors products are being used by young people as a gateway to smoking due to the prevalence of candy-flavored products on the market. This, too, seems to be unfounded, especially since the number of Americans who smoke has plummeted to a record low. According to the Centers for Disease Control, even teen smoking has dropped to its lowest point in 22 years. The FDA’s own survey data show smoking among teens has declined by over 40 percent since 2011 to a new record low.

A 2013 University of Oklahoma Health Science Center survey of 1,300 college students found that 43 of respondents, or 3.3 percent, said e-cigarettes were their introduction to nicotine. Only one student began smoking after trying e-cigarettes.

“It didn’t seem as though it really proved to be a gateway to anything,” a researcher said of the results of the survey.

Thankfully, legislation has been introduced that would keep e-cigarettes and vapor products already on the market from going through an extensive and costly regulatory process. The language was attached to the agriculture appropriations bill, despite Democrats’ attempts to remove it. Though the bill never made it to the floor of Congress for a vote, it’s possible that it could be included in the upcoming omnibus spending bill.

We’re not simply talking about government encroachment and regulation of an industry growing in popularity; we’re also talking about potentially saving people’s lives. Unfortunately, as the American Vaping Association says, the message from the Obama administration to smokers is “quit or die.”

There are 31 comments.

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  1. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Nice first post, Jason.  Welcome to Ricochet.

    • #1
  2. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    These “Mom & Pop” shops look more like Cheech & Chong dumps.
    That’s because vapes offer an odor-free way to get any drug you like delivered in public. People are even putting meth in the darn things.
    Don’t try arguing the War on Drugs with me — I’m for it. I just think that this post presents a remarkably sanitized version of the issue; perhaps the only remotely sanitary thing about it.

    Welcome aboard!

    • #2
  3. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Welcome Jason, excellent post. BDB must be tired from stuffing the turkey.

    • #3
  4. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Heck no! We’re going out for Chinese. On Sunday.

    • #4
  5. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Well, enjoy your MSG and sulfite filled meal.

    • #5
  6. John Paul Inactive
    John Paul
    @JohnPaul

    Jason, Yes to your post. No to a cautionary principal that presumes danger and requires proof of absolute safety. Yes to the freedom to shop at Cheech & Chong’s if one is so inclined.
    JP

    • #6
  7. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Ball Diamond Ball:These “Mom & Pop” shops look more like Cheech & Chong dumps.

    The music must be pretty entertaining, though:

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Don’t just stand there! Regulate something!!

    • #8
  9. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Back before Black Friday, I discovered chewing Nicorette increased EV while playing poker. So the FDA is now promoting cancer and poverty.

    The FDA would also like to turn Vitamin C over to the DEA. Yep, these are the bureaucrats we definitely want to micromanage our lives.

    • #9
  10. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    jetstream:Back before Black Friday, I discovered chewing Nicorette increased EV while playing poker. So the FDA is now promoting cancer and poverty.

    The FDA would also like to turn Vitamin C over to the DEA. Yep, these are the bureaucrats we definitely want to micromanage our lives.

    I remember back in the ’80s when I was trying to quit smoking, of being in a night club offering to trade somebody a Nicorette for a cigarette. Plenty of folks offered me a cigarette nobody took the Nicorette.

    • #10
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    These outfits are just head shops, and thank God this whole Republic isn’t one big libertarian ghetto.

    • #11
  12. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    The Reticulator:Don’t just stand there! Regulate something!!

    Well, that’s just it, isn’t it?  The regulators exist to regulate, and they’re going to regulate until you’re blue in the face.  It’s what they’re there for.

    • #12
  13. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    The problem is that smoking and tobacco tax revenue is down. Promises were made based on the concept that the tobacco tax revenue would be X number of dollars or more per year, but that is not happening. Plus sooner or later people are going to notice that whole government agencies are dedicated to regulating a product that is being used less and less frequently. So these agencies are in danger of funding cuts and program elimination. This can not be allowed to happen. Thus enter vapping. A virgin product and industry in need of both regulation and taxation. Tax structure can be modified and interpreted to cover it. Tax revenue can be collected. Regulations can be repurposed. Government jobs can be saved. It might even save a life. The world is saved.

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    jetstream:The FDA would also like to turn Vitamin C over to the DEA. Yep, these are the bureaucrats we definitely want to micromanage our lives.

    I figured they’d come for the vitamins, eventually, but I hadn’t heard about this one.

    • #14
  15. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    They’re definitely pushing the head shop ambience, BDB, probably to rook in the boomers like me.

    Let your freak flag fly!

    EDIT: Welcome, Jason!

    • #15
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    The Reticulator:

    jetstream:The FDA would also like to turn Vitamin C over to the DEA. Yep, these are the bureaucrats we definitely want to micromanage our lives.

    I figured they’d come for the vitamins, eventually, but I hadn’t heard about this one.

    News about vitamin C and the DEA doesn’t seem terribly conspicuous on Google. It would not surprise me, but does anyone have a link?

    • #16
  17. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    I know the DEA also monitors substances believed to be used in the manufacture of drugs. I wouldn’t know if vitamin C belongs in that category, but several perfectly sober chemicals do.

    • #17
  18. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    Ball Diamond Ball:These outfits are just head shops, and thank God this whole Republic isn’t one big libertarian ghetto.

    BDB, you are so frickin’ out of your mind. I mean, no conservative hates libertarians as much as I do, but still, you’re just wrong…

    • #18
  19. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:I know the DEA also monitors substances believed to be used in the manufacture of drugs. I wouldn’t know if vitamin C belongs in that category, but several perfectly sober chemicals do.

    Talk about mission creep, or creepy, or whatever.

    • #19
  20. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    I’m just trying to figure out what “perfectly sober” chemicals are, and what chemicals can do to get out of that strait jacket.

    • #20
  21. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Maybe a re-breather which gives the vapors and keeps the exhalation from the non-smokers in the vicinity can be made available cheaply.  Just the thin clear plastic hose to the nose.  You can even pretend that you are getting oxygen in case you have bluenoses nearby.

    Or, noting that Obamacare needs subscribers to fund itself, (paying full boat or not), outlawing ecigarettes might lead to a need for opiates to break the dependency on nicotine.  Opiates require a prescription, hence a need for Obamacare.

    Personally I’d go for the re-breather.  Cheaper than Barry’s preferred option.

    • #21
  22. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    If the vape makers just had the Feds slap a big old tax on it, they could get subsidies.

    • #22
  23. jarzyn Inactive
    jarzyn
    @jarzyn

    In lovely Ontario the provincial government introduced laws equating tobacco smoking and vaping as of Jan. 1, 2016. Practically no vaping will be allowed in public spaces,workplaces, etc. One wonders how are vaping enthusiasts going to test and taste “juice” in these mom – and – pop shops (we have plenty of them here).

    • #23
  24. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Ball Diamond Ball: …thank God this whole Republic isn’t one big libertarian ghetto.

    It was, until the Progressives came along and started regulating everything, and started the totally ineffective* War on Drugs.  Generally, Conservatives think that was a better time.

    I gather you’re not a Conservative, then?

    *It was incredibly effective at destroying our liberties and the Constitution, which was the Progressives’ real goal.

    • #24
  25. Robert E. Lee Member
    Robert E. Lee
    @RobertELee

    Somewhere, someone is having fun.  This must be stopped at all costs!  That is what government and morals police are all about.

    • #25
  26. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    I’m conservative as in: I don’t want that trash attracting dirtbags to my neighborhood.  A vape user may be legally the same as a cigarette smoker.  But a vape shop is a like a head shop, not a tobacconist, and for obvious reasons.

    I would love to have this sort of thing settled locally.  Instead, we’ll get some Supreme Court decision affirming the inalienable “right to vape”, and let no city infringe upon it.

    So let’s just stipulate that a store dedicated to a legal device for ingesting any sort of drug you wish has little in common with Big Tobacco, and everything in common with a shop dedicated to rolling papers, roach clips, skull pipes, weed-leaf ballcaps, “Legalize!” posters with Bob Marley, and a clutch of patchouli-soaked idiots stumbling around the parking lot *if you’re lucky*.

    These dumps make cigarettes look downright healthy.

    • #26
  27. Robert E. Lee Member
    Robert E. Lee
    @RobertELee

    My wife vapes, she’s trying to quit smoking.  The place she patronizes looks nothing like the head shops I remember from the ’60s.  It’s right on the main thoroughfare, not hidden in an alley.

    This is not to say all vape places are open and aboveboard but they aren’t all dens of iniquity either.  The place my wife visits is all glass cases and not drug paraphernalia apparent.

    Vaping is a legitimate business that, so far, is legal.  I hope it continues to be so.

    • #27
  28. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Robert E. Lee:My wife vapes, she’s trying to quit smoking. The place she patronizes looks nothing like the head shops I remember from the ’60s. It’s right on the main thoroughfare, not hidden in an alley.

    This is not to say all vape places are open and aboveboard but they aren’t all dens of iniquity either. The place my wife visits is all glass cases and not drug paraphernalia apparent.

    Vaping is a legitimate business that, so far, is legal. I hope it continues to be so.

    Congratulations to your wife, and good luck!  I used the gum to great effect several years ago.  I just gave myself a license to chew as much of that stuff as I wanted for as long as I wanted, and let nature take its course.  Made it through a year in Afghanistan (and more remarkably, the year afterward) without a single smoke.

    One day at a time.

    • #28
  29. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    I’ve quit smoking three times for long periods.  I’m in the sixth year of having quit now.  The most important rule for staying non-smoking is that you can’t smoke just one cigarette.  If you light one up, you’ll be back to full-time smoking shortly.  Or at least that’s been my experience.

    • #29
  30. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Randy Webster:I’ve quit smoking three times for long periods. I’m in the sixth year of having quit now. The most important rule for staying non-smoking is that you can’t smoke just one cigarette. If you light one up, you’ll be back to full-time smoking shortly. Or at least that’s been my experience.

    This is so true, I am in year 9 of my umpteenth quit during 53 years of heavy smoking. I’ve managed to stay quit for so long by understanding that I am a Nicotine addict. I will always be an addict. Lighting up a cigarette will be my downfall. This time I quit cold turkey with no aids and this time it worked. Kind of like AA, you will always be an alcoholic. Do not take that first drink. I’ve had more than one friend start smoking again after lighting up that next cigarette.

    Those that are interested go to: http://www.whyquit.com there is a vast amount of information and why it’s better to just quit without any aids.

    • #30

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