By John Wiesehan Jr. is CEO of Mistic E-Cigs, a leading brand of e-cigs, mods and personal vapor products.
Sixty years ago, on July 12, 1957, the surgeon general, Dr. Leroy Burney, upon interpretation of studies done on lung cancer, said, “Excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors in lung cancer.” Quite extraordinary for the times.
...we question a regulatory approach that fails to distinguish cigarettes and other traditional tobacco products from vapor products...
—John Wiesehan, Jr.
This week we’ll be doing something quite extraordinary of our own. We’ll be in Washington, D.C. participating in the Vapor Technology Association’s leadership conference, discussing key regulatory and legislative issues, and meeting with federal lawmakers to foster positive change in the vapor industry.
We remain committed to delivering high-quality vaping products as alternatives to smoking, and are fully complying with the FDA’s new regulations. However, we question a regulatory approach that fails to distinguish cigarettes and other traditional tobacco products from vapor products.
We continue to support legislation to change the February 15, 2007 “grandfather date” to August 8, 2016, the day the new FDA regulations went into effect. Newly deemed classes of tobacco products such as e-cigarettes should have grandfather protection just as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products did when they were subjected to the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
While legislation to protect vaping products from an onerous and costly FDA approval process was scrapped from the newly passed Congressional budget in May, there have been some positive developments:
- The FDA has provided a 3-month extension of all future compliance deadlines for requirements under the final deeming rule.
- The House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture approved a bill on July 12 for fiscal 2018 that would change the grandfather date to August 8, 2016.
- Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has introduced legislation to ease impending federal restrictions on vaping products.
- A new version of the Cole-Bishop Amendment is pending to change the grandfather date to August 8, 2016.
Although we are cautiously optimistic at the federal level, seven states, the District of Columbia, plus eight other cities and counties have enacted special vaping taxes. Seven additional states have taxes pending, and just recently, San Francisco city supervisors approved an ordinance to ban the sales of flavored vaping e-liquids.
It’s hard to fathom opposition to vaping when more and more research is emerging on the health risks of vapor products compared to smoking. Still, we are encouraged...
—John Wiesehan, Jr.
Although many states cite underage age use as a rationale for penalizing vaping, the National Institute of Health’s Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF) shows steady declines of e-cig use among youth since 2014, with usage declines from 2015 and 2016 across all categories. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention also announced its own survey findings that show a decline in teen vaping since the agency began tracking it in 2011. Additionally, new state laws make it illegal for anyone under 18 (and under 21 in some states) to purchase vapor products.
Irrational state taxation and regulations are creating adverse dynamics at the local level and making it more difficult for adult smokers to make the switch to e-cigs. While there have been some local victories preventing excessive regulations, we continue to work with the Vapor Technology Association to ensure vapor products are accessible to adult consumers.
It’s hard to fathom opposition to vaping when more and more research is emerging on the health risks of vapor products compared to smoking. Still, we are encouraged that some positive research findings are getting through, albeit far too slowly. State and federal lawmakers need to recognize the true potential of vaping as an alternative to smoking … which kills nearly 480,000 people annually in the U.S., and five million worldwide each year. And they need to take decisive action to save those lives.