How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans
May 19, 2016 5 Comments
You may have noticed that the FDA recently decided that E-cig should be regulated (by themselves, natch) as tobacco products. Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to me, maybe because I expect tobacco products to contain, well, I don’t know, tobacco, maybe.
Jared Meyer wrote about this the other day in The Federalist, here’s some of it.
Most people agree minors should not have access to products that contain substantial levels of nicotine (and “substantial” is used because many foods contain trace amounts of nicotine). But, in focusing on this move, commentators are missing how the FDA’s new regulations will destroy 99 percent of an industry that offers an option the Royal College of Physicians finds is 95 percent safer than cigarettes.
We Don’t Care About Your Health
The FDA’s regulations will force all e-cigarette products to go through the costly and time-consuming premarket tobacco product application process, a step that all but the big tobacco companies will not be able to comply with. (For more on how the FDA’s approval process will harm innovation and consumers, see my previous E21 article).
The fundamental reason FDA placed the public at greater risk of the health problems that come with smoking traditional cigarette was that it cannot pass up on a chance to expand its power. As the tortured language of the regulation shows, the FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences. Instead, the agency twists congressional intent in its deadly power grab.The FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences.
Last week Nicopure Labs, an e-cigarette company, filed a lawsuit against the FDA that argued the agency’s dictates violate free speech by prohibiting e-cigarette makers from advertising that their products are smoke-free or safer than cigarettes. When addressing public comments on page 248 of the regulation, the FDA preemptively brought up this legal challenge by writing, “A few comments expressed concern that imposition of section 911 of the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act] will force e-cigarette manufacturers to implicitly lie by not permitting them to tell consumers that their products are safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes, to advertise that they do not contain tobacco, and to state that they are ‘smoke free.’”
The FDA replied to the objection by stating, “Section 911 is one of the provisions of the statute that applies automatically to deemed products. It was included in the FD&C Act to protect consumers from manufacturers making invalid or unsubstantiated claims, as many had done with respect to their designation of cigarettes as ‘light,’ ‘low,’ or ‘mild.’”
One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that while government talks a good game about wanting us to quit smoking, they don’t really, smokers pay for a good bit of the FDA, and they provide a lot of money to both the local and federal government. Do you really think the cost of a pack of Marlboros is all that much greater now when they cost at least $5.00 than when the cost about 35¢? Nope, almost all of that difference goes to the government(s). If everybody quit smoking today, they’d be broke beyond fixing next month.
In full disclosure, I’ve been a smoker since the 60s, when all the cool kids smoked, probably averaging about 2-2½ packs a day, a good part of the time on non-filtered Pall-Malls. I always enjoyed it, and in fact, still do occasionally, although now I’m more likely to indulge in a fairly decent cigar. How did I get to that point? Easy answer, E-cigarettes. It’s very true, they allowed me to very easily quit smoking, and yes, my health has improved a lot. My stamina isn’t what it was when I was 20, but it’s a reasonable comparison to what it was at 45. I rarely cough anymore, where it was constant before, and in general, I just feel much better. And you know what else? When I was smoking, I spent around $20 a day on the habit, now I spend roughly $50 a month on its replacement. To me, that’s quite a product, that can do so much for me. And yes, I tried all the (very expensive) replacement programs too, I likely spent something like $1000 on trying (unsuccessfully) to quit smoking.
Not a good thing for either the FDA or ‘Big Tobacco’. So in true crony-capitalist fashion, it looks to me like they decided to destroy something, by taxing it out of existence, that has the usefulness to destroy one, and damage the other. And the Health of the Public, be damned, our money is much more important.
About those health benefits, the Royal College of Physicians had some things to say, these are just the ones that caught my eye, the paper is linked below.
- Smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of death and disability, and social inequality in health, in the UK.
- Quitting smoking is very difficult and most adults who smoke today will continue to smoke for many years.
- NRT is most effective in helping people to stop smoking when used together with health professional input and support, but much less so when used on its own.
- E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.
- However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.
- Rather, the available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
- A regulatory strategy should, therefore, take a balanced approach in seeking to ensure product safety, enable and encourage smokers to use the product instead of tobacco, and detect and prevent effects that counter the overall goals of tobacco control policy.
- The tobacco industry has become involved in the e-cigarette market and can be expected to try to exploit these products to market tobacco cigarettes, and to undermine wider tobacco control work.
- However, in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.
The FDA’s approach is very suspect because it goes against the best available evidence, which I think is brought out by the RCP paper. The FDA’s approach in collusion with the tobacco companies is, in fact, against the best interests of the taxpayers, and will cause more smokers to die of tobacco-related diseases.