FDA Friday, May 8th

Greetings, fellow vapers! There’s been a whole lot of hustle and bustle around the internet since last week, when the FDA announced their intention to deem electronic cigarettes a “tobacco product.” You can read our official summary of the regulations and response here.

The FDA is currently accepting commentary from the public on this matter, and we encourage you to voice your opinion. You can post your comment here. The deadline to submit comments is July 9th, 2014.

Before posting your comment to the FDA, check the CASAA website. They will soon post a call to action, and we stand by them. Also, ECF has an open forum about the proposal, which remains fairly lively.

Well, then, what’s been going on?

On May 1st, Jacob Sullum at Forbes wrote that the FDA may have just irrationally decided to treat e-cigarettes as a menace to public health. Sullum’s piece is well-considered, if a little long, and he presents a balanced assessment of the consequences of the FDA’s proposals. Sullum has posted a number of other articles to Forbes discussing the continuing debates on e-cigarettes, so be prepared to spend an hour or so going down the rabbit hole. It’s all good stuff.

On May 2nd, long-time smoking harm-reduction campaigner and industry insider Bill Godshall from Smoke Free Pennsylvania posted a lengthy list of e-cigarette related studies demonstrating that legislative moves like the FDA’s are little more than fear-mongering, and that e-cigarettes really do help smokers quit. Keep up the good work, Mr. Godshall!

Over at The New York Times, a round-table of articles all on the topic How Should E-Cigarettes be Regulated was posted on May 4th. As is usual for The New York Times, this round of opinions was both enlightening and engaging. One standout piece was The F.D.A. Must Tread Lightly, in which Norman Siegel, a civil rights and civil liberties lawyer in NYC writes that the FDA “should educate and inform the public” and must “respect people’s ability to figure out what is in their best interests” before dropping the hammer of restrictions.

Meanwhile, Michael Siegel’s blog has been full of good stuff the whole time. In a May 6th post on the deeming legislation, Siegel argues cogently about how the FDA’s “new product” restrictions run counter to the interests of public health, because when it comes to e-cigarettes “it is the older products – the antiquated ones – that were much less effective.” While we vapers might know that already, it is still news to many. Even more exciting, however, is that Siegel called out a cadre of US senators for their “disingenuous baloney” in asserting that a ban on flavors will somehow prevent youth from becoming addicted to nicotine.

True to form, Meghan Neal at Vice discusses some of the differences between the cig-alike e-cigarette industry and the growing, soon to be pressing, concerns of brick-and-mortar DIY shops with respect to the proposed legislation.

A May 6th post on naturalnews.com on the FDA regulations asks a deceptively insightful question: “The FDA says e-cigarettes have not been fully studied. Have they studied nicotine?” As this question suggests, the FDA’s approach to this matter has been ham-fisted, to put it generously, and naturalnews.com effectively highlights the absurdity of the FDA’s stated rationale for its proposal.

In a May 6th article posted on elegantfool.com, Rupert Hargreaves suggests that The FDA’s New Ruling Could be Good News for the E-cigarette Industry. Mr. Hargreaves is, right, in a way, especially when he notes that “both Reynolds and Altria are planning national rollouts of their e-cig products during the next few months,” and mentions that other major e-cig producers, including Lorrilard (of Blu e-cigs, and the third-largest tobacco company in the US) applauded the FDA’s guidelines. It is clear from this article that the people who will truly benefit from the FDA’s proposal are, as we suspected, the large tobacco companies, and not the up-and-coming manufacturers.

Finally, onvaping.com has posted an ultimate list of e-cig studies. This impressive undertaking will certainly help anybody who doesn’t want to wait for CASAA to post their call to action before submitting their opinion to the FDA, who has admitted they will disregard non-scientific research.

So, how does the debate look now? By and large, e-cigarette proponents have really stepped it up. In response to the FDA’s claim that there exists insufficient scientific research on the effects of e-cigarettes, we now have easy access to significant evidence to the contrary. Moreover, as you can see if you go read Hargreave’s article, the people in favor of restrictions on e-cigarette sales seem to be those who have the most to gain if smaller outfits were ejected from the industry. Companies like Lorrilard, Reynolds and Atria, who support the FDA’s proposal, will obviously benefit from the reduction in competition, and their opinions should consequently be discounted.

At the same time, Michael Siegel has discovered which legislators have invested significant effort into supporting the FDA’s proposals. We wonder how many of them have been supported by big tobacco money recently. It is clear that battle-lines are being drawn, and that we vaping advocates now have a much clearer understanding of who stands to gain from these restrictions, and why. We are no longer need to have suspicions, as we have evidence.

Overall, right now we’re still at a wait-and-see phase. While the word is clearly getting out, and while it is evident that the science is on our side, we still eagerly await word from CASAA. It is counterproductive to react negatively to what we see going on, because when facing opponents as powerful as senators, big tobacco, and the FDA itself, we are going to need to follow a concerted, well-considered plan in order to succeed.

Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Previous article The FDA, Vaping, and YOU