“I haven’t written on tobacco harm reduction in quite a while, so catching up for lost time now is no longer possible, excessive water has flowed under the bridge. But among the ongoing, pervasive campaigns of deception and misleading assertions coming from all the official policy makers and “public health” authorities trying to dissuade smokers from switching to safer reduced-harm products (Electronic Cigarette, vapor products, etc.), there are some lights in the darkness. I will focus upon these.
In Congress, the recent Omnibus budget bill failed to include perhaps best short-term hope, the “Cole Amendment,” HR 2058, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). This straightforward, one might say obvious, alternation in the vile, lethal “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” (FSPTCA) signed into law by The President during 2009, would extend the date by which tobacco harm reduction, or THR, products could be considered “substantially equivalent” to older vapor products, and thereby perhaps escape by far the most onerous requirements of proving which they do not need the millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to prove that towards the FDA’s satisfaction.
(It should be remembered the FSPTCA, trumpeted as allowing the FDA to finally “regulate tobacco,” was in fact crafted by politicians and Philip Morris with the express intent of keeping safer tobacco/nicotine products off the market in order never to compete with or, heaven forfend, actually reduce, cigarette consumption. Thus, cigarette taxes would carry on and flow to governments and cigarette revenue to Big Tobacco. In this destructive goal, a minimum of, the law is proving quite successful).
Don’t trust me? Here’s what Dr. Joel Nitzkin, former head from the American Association of Public Health Physicians, says concerning the law:
“Since its passage in 2009, the law’s effects happen to be the exact opposite of [former FDA Commissioner David] Kessler’s original intent. Rather than creating legal and regulatory processes that secure public-health advantages by substantially reducing consumption of cigarettes and reducing teen recruitment to nicotine addiction, the current process protects cigarettes from competition from lower-risk and less addictive products. Essentially, what the law states solidifies cigarettes since the default means to deliver nicotine to Americans. In the almost seven years since the law’s adoption, the FDA has been doing absolutely nothing to regulate the standard of manufacture of any tobacco product.”
The FDA proposed a regulating e-cigs referred to as “deeming regulations,” which would place these near-harmless products beneath the same regulatory umbrella as cigarettes, and thereby make 99 percent of them essentially unmarketable because of the expense of proving them safer than cigarettes – an undeniable fact which can be obvious to whoever has passed elementary chemistry.
The FSPTCA does not currently cover e-cigarettes. However, the FDA is permitted to “deem” other products as tobacco products and thereby regulate them just as if they were – which THR products are most definitely not. E-cigs/vapors usually are not combusted and have no tobacco, thus they emit no smoke, so regardless of the FDA in their infinite wisdom deems them to be, does nothing to change that fact.
When the FDA get away with their word-magic charade, new releases that fail the “substantial equivalence” test – i.e., all of the currently available products – will either go bankrupt or even be swept up by that same “evil” Big Tobacco, ostensibly the final thing public health will want. Yeah, right.
The Cole Amendment, which THR devotees thought went down with the budget amendment’s failure to add it, is actually greatly alive. It would merely delay the effective date of “substantial equivalence” for vapor products towards the date that the regulations are implemented – if they ever are. Nowadays there are a minimum of 48 other Congressmen (all Republicans, for whatever reason) supporting the bill.
Moreover, because of the toll of cigarettes within our nation – the CDC’s estimates are that almost one half million Americans die annually of smoking-related causes – and the reality that millions of smokers (some estimate ten million) jtaxxs quit smoking thanks to THR products, at least one observer who should be aware of the political arena (Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform) predicts that vapers may be the key demographic to determine the upcoming elections.
Even passage of the Cole Amendment would not be a panacea. The actual hope rests with the Office of Management and Budget, an outpost of the White House (where we visited last November to plead this situation), which has yet to rule on the FDA’s destructive proposal.
There is still time, and hope, that OMB will perceive the anti-business, anti-public health nature of the FDA’s proposed regulation, and either eliminate the most heinous parts or just eviscerate it and let them know to try again, now with public health, not their very own petty agenda, under consideration.”