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The Vapor Industry’s Congressional Allies Unite To Fight FDA Regs

 

The e-cigarette industry sees the light at the end of the tunnel as pro-vaping congressional leaders find new opportunities to lighten the FDA’s deeming rule over vapor products during Congress’ race to pass a government spending bill this week, reports USAToday.

Many pro-vaping groups wrote to their congressional leaders this past week asking them to add the pro-vapor provision to Congress’ spending measure, a measure that Congress must pass by midnight April 28 to prevent a government shutdown and if successful would be a sign of support for the vapor industry’s growing support from legislators.

 

Bills Drafted to Roll Back the FDA’s Regulations

 

The provision supported by the industry, was drafted by Reps. Tom Cole and Sanford Bishop and would grandfather and exempt the thousands of vaping products currently on the market from the FDA’s  onerous PMTA approval process.   A rule issued last year, which “deems” all vapor products as tobacco products and gives the FDA the power to retroactively examine all e-cigarette products on the market made after February 2007.

The date being crucial as the vapor industry was scarcely in present before then, vapor advocates avidly stating the costly process’ intent is to force most vapor companies to close. 

“Vapor products offer a promising path for harm reduction for those seeking to quit or limit their smoking,” stated Rep. Bishop. “This legislation would ensure the FDA’s regulatory process does not limit the availability of safer tobacco options for those seeking to make use of them.” 

Another bill titled the Cigarette Smoking Reduction and Electronic Vapor Alternatives Act of 2017, drafted by Rep. Duncan Hunter would remove electronic cigarette products from tobacco as it is currently stated in the Tobacco Control Act. It will also establish new regulatory framework to set vapor products as a new tool for harm reduction for those wishing to quit tobacco cigarettes.  Read more on Rep. Hunter’s new vape bill.

Behind these efforts stand the big tobacco companies and pro-vaping congressional leaders in hopes to overturn the FDA’s oversight on vaping. Other vapor and tobacco companies have also filed lawsuits against the FDA’s rulings within the past year. Obama’s Administration vigorously defended the rule; whereas Trump’s Administration has recently filed a motion for an extension “to more fully consider the issues raised.”

 

Lobbying for Your Vape

 

The FDA’s authority to regulate e-cigarettes has sparked forceful lobbying to roll back the industry-killing provisions. Read more on the FDA’s Deeming Regulations  A recently filed fundraising report from Trump’s inaugural committee has shown that tobacco giants have spent millions and have hired an army of lobbyists to encourage the Trump Administration and Congress to roll back the deeming regulations.

There are two key tobacco companies who have a vested interest in the vaping trend and who have donated to Trump’s inauguration, Reynolds American and Altria, reports  Prnewswire.com.  As noted in the recently released disclosure documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, Altria gave $500,000 and Reynolds donated $1 million. 

Just in the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and other trade associations have already spent over $4.7 million on lobbying alone. Altria has hired at least 17 lobbying firms, adding Mitch McConnell, former Chief of Staff for Senate Majority Leader to their team. Reynolds has hired 13 lobbying firms and added Tom Price, the former Deputy Chief of Staff to Health and Human Services Secretary to their group.

 

Amounts Spent on Federal Lobbying In 2017 So Far:

 

Altria: $2.3 million

Philip Morris International: $1.3 million

Reynolds American: $589,848

 

Reynolds American spokesman David Howard had stated that his company is pleased to be one of the many organizations to be part of the industry’s lobbying. 

“We will continue our efforts to educate elected officials on matters that are important to our consumers, our shareholders and other stakeholders,” he stated, “It is particularly important to do so with people new in government roles who may not have the background and information about the issues.”

 

Hope for the $4.4 Billion Vapor Industry

 

It seems that all is coming to a head for the vapor industry this week as the potential for the Cole-Bishop provision becoming law comes into light, President Trump himself moves to slash Obama Administration regulations and the Senate assesses Trump’s chosen nomination for the new FDA lead, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. 

Dr. Gottlieb, a physician and former FDA official has been vocal on his support of e-cigarettes and had formerly served on the board of an e-cigarette retailer. Stating his support of vapor products, he referred to e-cigarettes as “reduced harm products” that should be made available “to consumers to transition them off of combustible cigarettes.” 

On Thursday April 27, The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has voted to advance Dr. Gottlieb’s nomination to run the FDA and has moved his nomination to full Senate for vote.

Keith Nelson of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association stated that he is “greatly encouraged” by President Trump’s moves to reduce Obama-era regulations and supports Dr. Gottlieb’s tactics on vaping regulation.

“We want this to be dominated by reason and sound science, not public health hysteria,” stated Nelson.