FDA Friday, July 11

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of FDA Fridays, where we examine current events in e-cig legislation and debate in the US. What’s new this week?

If you haven’t gotten around to it yet, please see CASAA’s third call to action to stop the FDA deeming proposals that threaten vapers’ ability to live smoke-free across the country. If you aren’t sure what the big deal is, please see our statement about it here.

If you live in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, Vermont, or Baltimore, MD, CASAA has recently issued urgent calls to action, so be sure to participate and help the cause. You can find more information here.

So, the news this week is sad—to the point that it would be slightly ridiculous if it wasn’t so dire: if you vape, the FDA intends to stalk you on Facebook. You. Yes, YOU.

Just to let that sink in, it’s worth saying again: THE FDA IS GOING TO STALK YOU ON FACEBOOK.

In short, according to a recent Reuters article (cited above), the FDA has earmarked $270 million for 48 vaping impact research studies. However, most of these are scientific studies that will not provide them with ammunition in the current legal wrangling around their proposals. Reuters reports Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, an FDA-funded scientist, as saying “they want data and they want it yesterday.”

The FDA, however, only began funding e-cig research in 2012. Consequently, in order to get data immediately, one of its projects involves scanning Facebook for posts on how people are tinkering with e-cigarettes to make the devices deliver extra nicotine and change vaping temperatures, in order to “show what emissions people are exposed to.”

Here’s why this should frighten you. First, considering the recent break of the news of Facebook’s unethical sociological research practices, of which it has apparently conducted hundreds (a good summary of which can be found here), it is difficult to determine whether or not your information is being collected, and the levels of consent required for that collection to take place. Second, can the FDA seriously not think of a better way to acquire information on vapers? Perhaps by asking some? Third, it is extremely suspicious that the FDA wants this data now, when it has already proposed legislative changes and begun to defend them in congress.

If the FDA only began funding studies in 2012, why did they not wait for these studies to be completed before suggesting that e-cigs be banned? Reuters reports that an unnamed FDA spokeswoman said the FDA “will always make regulatory decisions based on the best available science.” They have been saying this all along, but, as I have discussed before, these claims have been far from convincing.

Most troubling, however, is that the unnamed spokeswoman said that “with regard to e-cigarettes, the agency does not believe it will take many years to create the regulatory framework” after the FDA has gained regulatory authority. In case you didn’t catch what that means, the FDA just stated, on the record, that it is desperate to collect data to support their proposals through congress, but that even without any of the scientific data it is paying for, it already knows what it wants to do.

We have a word for that: prejudice.

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