House Leaders Urge FDA to Go Easy on Ecigs
Throughout 2014, politicians have come down hard on electronic cigarettes, but now it appears that the tides are turning. Now that Republicans are leading the house after the November elections, the lawmakers are urging the FDA to back off on ecig regulations and think twice between taking a harsh approach.
Last week, House leaders sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell requesting changes to the FDA’s current ecig regulation proposal. The letter was signed from Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton. The FDA’s current approach would require all ecig companies to go through a rigorous approval process for all products released after February 2007. But the lawmakers are asking the FDA to change their approach, arguing that “most e-vapor products did not exist at the time.”
The House leaders complained that the rigorous application process would essentially remove new products from the market as the FDA sifted through thousands of product approvals. Boehner, who is a well known smoker, said that the proposed regulations would put ecigs at a major disadvantage compared to tobacco products and that should never be the goal.
Republican leaders suggested that the FDA issue a grandfathering date to exempt the current ecig products from the approval process. They want the FDA to only require applications on products released after the April 2014 date the rules were proposed or a date when the rules are finally formalized.
Gregory Conley serves as the president of the American Vaping Association and he was encouraged to see lawmakers rethink the current regulatory proposal. As the FDA plans currently stand, ecig manufacturers would probably need to file individual applications for all of their products, e-liquid flavors, and nicotine strengths, leading to a deep paper trail that could take years to sort through. Conley believes that if the new rules are passed as currently proposed, the FDA will arbitrarily ban all non-tobacco flavors for e-cigarettes.
“If you don’t move up the grandfather date, then the FDA is never going to (give premarket approval) for a flavored e-cigarette product – that will be their backdoor prohibition on almost all flavors,” Conley said. “Maybe they’ll approve a scotch or whiskey, but they won’t approve the flavors I like.”
Conley isn’t the only one that hopes e-cig flavors will be left alone. A survey conducted by the E-Cigarette Forum revealed that 79 percent of the 10,000 respondents would try to buy e-liquids from the “black market” if the FDA banned flavors.
It’s encouraging to see House Leaders speak rationally and take action towards fair electronic cigarette regulation. Perhaps times are changing and the FDA regulation will be more balanced than we all believed earlier this year. Only time will tell.