“I haven’t written on tobacco harm reduction in quite a while, so catching up for lost time now is no longer possible, too much 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 (Top Electronic Cigarette, vapor products, etc.), there are a few lights in the darkness. I will focus upon these.
In Congress, the recent Omnibus budget bill neglected to include perhaps best short-term hope, the “Cole Amendment,” HR 2058, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). This easy, one might say obvious, change in the vile, lethal “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” (FSPTCA) signed into law by President Obama in 2009, would extend the date by which tobacco harm reduction, or THR, products will be considered “substantially equivalent” to older vapor products, and thereby perhaps escape probably the most onerous requirements of proving they do not need the vast amounts of money and 1000s of man-hours to prove that for the FDA’s satisfaction.
(It should be remembered that this FSPTCA, trumpeted as allowing the FDA to finally “regulate tobacco,” is at fact crafted by politicians and Philip Morris with the express intent of keeping safer tobacco/nicotine products off of the market in order never to contend with or, heaven forfend, actually reduce, cigarette consumption. Thus, cigarette taxes would continue to flow to governments and cigarette revenue to Big Tobacco. In this destructive goal, at the very least, what the law states is proving quite successful).
Don’t trust me? Here’s what Dr. Joel Nitzkin, former head in the American Association of Public Health Physicians, says regarding the law:
“Since its passage during 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 benefits by substantially reducing consumption of cigarettes and reducing teen recruitment to nicotine addiction, the present process protects cigarettes from competition from lower-risk and less addictive products. In essence, the law solidifies cigarettes as the default way 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 caliber of manufacture of any tobacco product.”
The FDA proposed a regulation of e-cigs known as the “deeming regulations,” which will place these near-harmless products under the same regulatory umbrella as cigarettes, and thereby make 99 percent of them essentially unmarketable because of the cost of proving them safer than cigarettes – an undeniable fact which is obvious to those who have passed elementary chemistry.
The FSPTCA will not currently cover e-cigarettes. However, the FDA is allowed to “deem” other products as tobacco products and thereby regulate them as though these people were – which THR goods are absolutely not. E-cigs/vapors are certainly not combusted and have no tobacco, thus they emit no smoke, so no matter what the FDA in its infinite wisdom deems these to be, does nothing to change that fact.
In the event the FDA get away with their word-magic charade, new items that fail the “substantial equivalence” test – i.e., all the available today products – will either go bankrupt or perhaps be swept up by that same “evil” Big Tobacco, ostensibly the last thing public health would want. Yeah, right.
The Cole Amendment, which THR devotees thought went down using the budget amendment’s failure to include it, is certainly greatly alive. It could merely delay the effective date of “substantial equivalence” for vapor products for the date that the regulations are implemented – should they ever are. There are now at the very least 48 other Congressmen (all Republicans, for reasons unknown) supporting the bill.
Moreover, due to the toll of cigarettes in our nation – the CDC’s estimates are that almost one half million Americans die every year of smoking-related causes – and the reality that countless smokers (some estimate ten million) jtaxxs give up smoking due to THR products, at least one observer who should know the political arena (Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform) predicts that vapers could possibly be the key demographic to choose the upcoming elections.
Even passage from the Cole Amendment would not be a panacea. The true hope rests with all the Office of Management and Budget, an outpost in the White House (where we visited last November to plead this example), 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 in the FDA’s proposed regulation, and either eliminate the most heinous parts or simply just eviscerate it and tell them to use again, this time with public health, not their own petty agenda, under consideration.”