“I haven’t written on tobacco harm decrease 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 (Best E Cigarette On The Market, vapor products, etc.), there are several lights within the darkness. I am going to focus upon these.
In Congress, the recent Omnibus budget bill failed to include perhaps best short-term hope, the “Cole Amendment,” HR 2058, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). This simple, one might say obvious, alternation in the vile, lethal “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” (FSPTCA) signed into law by The President 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 by far the most onerous requirements of proving they do not need the huge amounts of money and 1000s of man-hours to prove that towards the FDA’s satisfaction.
(It should be remembered that this FSPTCA, trumpeted as allowing the FDA to finally “regulate tobacco,” was in fact crafted by politicians and Philip Morris using the express intent of keeping safer tobacco/nicotine products from the market so as never to contend with or, heaven forfend, actually reduce, cigarette consumption. Thus, cigarette taxes would carry on and flow to governments and cigarette revenue to Big Tobacco. In this destructive goal, a minimum of, the law is proving quite successful).
Don’t believe 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 opposite of [former FDA Commissioner David] Kessler’s original intent. Rather than creating legal and regulatory processes that secure public-health and fitness benefits by substantially reducing usage of cigarettes and reducing teen recruitment to nicotine addiction, the existing process protects cigarettes from competition from lower-risk and less addictive products. Basically, legal requirements solidifies cigarettes since the default means to deliver nicotine to Americans. Inside the almost seven years since the law’s adoption, the FDA did nothing to regulate the caliber of creation of any tobacco product.”
The FDA proposed a regulating e-cigs referred to as “deeming regulations,” which may place these near-harmless products under the same regulatory umbrella as cigarettes, and thereby make 99 percent of those essentially unmarketable due to the expense of proving them safer than cigarettes – a well known fact which is obvious to whoever has passed elementary chemistry.
The FSPTCA will not currently cover e-cigarettes. However, the FDA is allowed to “deem” other products as cigarettes and tobacco products and thereby regulate them as if they were – which THR goods are most definitely not. E-cigs/vapors usually are not combusted and possess no tobacco, thus they emit no smoke, so regardless of the FDA in its infinite wisdom deems these to be, does nothing to change this.
If the FDA get away with their word-magic charade, new items that fail the “substantial equivalence” test – i.e., all the now available products – will either go bankrupt or even be swept up by that same “evil” Big Tobacco, ostensibly the last thing public health will want. Yeah, right.
The Cole Amendment, which THR devotees thought went down using the budget amendment’s failure to include it, is certainly very much alive. It would merely delay the effective date of “substantial equivalence” for vapor products to the date the regulations are implemented – when 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 inside our nation – the CDC’s estimates are that almost one half million Americans die annually of smoking-related causes – and the fact that countless smokers (some estimate ten million) jtaxxs stop smoking due to THR products, at least one observer who ought to know the political arena (Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform) predicts that vapers could be the key demographic to decide the upcoming elections.
Even passage of the Cole Amendment would not really a panacea. The actual hope rests with the Office of Management and Budget, an outpost in the White House (where we visited last November to plead this example), which includes 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 of the FDA’s proposed regulation, and either eliminate the most heinous parts or simply eviscerate it and let them know to use again, now with public health, not their particular petty agenda, in mind.”