Over the past several months, the FDA has been gunning for the vaping industry. Then to top it all off, we recently seen the Surgeon General get involved by jumping on the ‘epidemic’ bandwagon. Between the FDA, the Surgeon General and other Health Organizations the vaping industry has been getting a lot of attention – be it both good and bad.
We’ll start with the good news. The commissioner of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb M.D., praised the work of vape shops for their work with age verification during an interview with USA Today. Last year, the FDA had setup uncover operations to see if stores were selling to minors. Their data showed that convenience stores were not following proper procedures, resulting in over 1300 infractions being sent out to these stores. This made shop owners proud, knowing that together we were finally getting some recognition for our efforts.
According to New England Journal of Medicine’s Study, published on January 30th, vaping is twice as effective to help smokers quit compared to the traditional nicotine replacement therapies (such as gum, lozenges or the patch). The study found that among the 886 randomized participants 18% of the e-cigarette participants were smoke-free after a year, while only 9.9% of the nicotine-replacement group were smoke-free. The study’s conclusion states “E-cigarettes were more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy when both products were accompanied by behavioral support.” Obviously, both the anti-vaping and the pro-vaping groups had a lot to say about this study. In an article from the Washington Post, they shared two opinions from both sides. One editorial, by Boston University researchers, said that e-cigarettes should only be used when FDA approved treatments do not work. While David Abrams, professor of social and behavioral sciences at New York University (who is a strong supporter of e-cigarettes) said that the British study provides “very strong evidence’ e-cigarettes” can help you quit, as good or better than nicotine-replacement therapy” over the long term. “Anybody who smokes should be switching to e-cigarettes now.” This study, along with the Royal College of Physician’s report from April 2016 has definitely made leaps for the vaping industry. It’s been great to see the positive news coming out proving what we have all been fighting and believing in over the past several years!
Besides Gottlieb’s praise, we’ve noticed there are other groups rallying behind the industry. On February 4th, the American’s for Tax Reform led a coalition (of free market, limited government and conservative organizations) that sent a letter to President Trump saying “We urge you to immediately halt the Food and Drug Administration’s aggressive regulatory assault on businesses who sell and consumers who rely on less harmful alternatives to cigarettes in the United States.” Their letter was upfront and honest but written very respectively and filled with a good collection of facts about the industry. They asked for the president to take a closer look into what’s been going on in the FDA. “We do not write you today urging your administration to ignore the concerns about the use of e-cigarettes by teens. We do, however, urge your administration to subject the FDA’s response and actions to much closer scrutiny and examine it within the context of your broader deregulatory and pro-jobs agenda.” Their final statement in their letter really gets to the heart of the problem, “We ask you to direct the FDA to pump the brakes on its new regulatory efforts against an innovative industry that is helping American smokers quit.”
Then on February 17th, the American Council on Science and Health called out the CDC for their mislabeling vaping as a ‘tobacco’ product and the spreading of misinformation on how vaping could lead to traditional smoking. According to the ACSH’s mission statement: “We do not represent any industry. We were created to be the science alternative to “news” that is often little more than hype based on exaggerated findings. We help policymakers see past scaremongers and activist groups.” They continue to say “We fight back against activists who have attacked the credibility of the overwhelming consensus of academic and private sector scientists who dispute their claims, undermining the integrity of the scientific enterprise.” This means a lot for the industry, having a group like this to speak up for us. They believe vaping may not be completely safe, and that this product should stay out of the hands of teenagers, but continue on to say that “the exaggerated hype and fear surrounding e-cigarettes runs the very real risk of undermining a valuable public health tool.” They even go as far as to make this statement: “This is very important to understand: E-cigarettes and other vaping devices do not contain tobacco. Period. They are not tobacco products, even though the government apparently considers them to be tobacco products.”
They believe that the CDC is trying to claim that vaping is a gateway to traditional smoking, but the CDC’s own data shows that this is just not true. The graph on the right shows that while vaping is on the rise, smoking rates have declined. If the CDC’s statement was true then this wouldn’t be the case, their data would show the opposite.
These are positive leaps in the right direction for the vaping industry. Although between the PMTA’s and other various hoops, we’ll need to jump through, our fight is definitely not over yet. That is extremely apparent when you see some of the negative press that has come out over the past few weeks.
There have been various papers/studies released, some in favor of vaping and others that are just downright bogus. Between making claims of how vaping can cause popcorn lung or heart attacks…these studies just keep popping up. Spreading the misinformation and falsified facts that our government wants you to believe. These bogus studies have been becoming viral overnight, helping to feed the general public’s fear over vaping. It’s extremely frustrating that these scientists are continuing the efforts to spread these so-called ‘facts’ as truth, but thankfully we have a few good people out there working hard to disprove/debunk these ridiculous studies. On February 1st, a scientific paper was published on nature.com, trying to again persuade those unfamiliar that if you use eliquid that contains diacetyl, you are at risk of developing ‘popcorn lung’. The industry has all but eliminated this compound in their eliquids, and in the UK they have banned it from eliquids altogether. The other fact to consider is that cigarettes contain hundreds of more times that amount of this chemical even in eliquids that did contain it. For this study to come out now, just seems like a stretch. But thankfully it was debunked by numerous people according to vapes.com. Besides the ‘popcorn lung’ hoax popping up again, there was another study that showed vaping can cause heart attacks. Thankfully, this was also debunked but it’s another report that went viral causing more confusion and fear to be spread about vaping. This incredible amount of lying is what could be the end of the industry and that’s what makes these types of events frustrating. We work hard to provide as much information as we can, and we are going to be constantly met with opposition regardless if it is or true or not. The Pennsylvania Department Of Health tweeted “E-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens or vapes—whatever you call them, they are NOT safer than other tobacco products. Learn how you can help protect your child’s health by talking about the dangers of vaping”. Many will believe what these top-notch health organizations will put out, and many of those who do believe these lies think our information is biased and not backed up by science. It’s hard to accept that this is what the fight can really come down too, but it’s extremely important that we continue to work on educating our nation about vaping.
This video also sheds some light on how anti-vaping groups has been working or at least coordinating together to benefit one another. Watch the video to hear, in her own words, what is really going on. In this episode of RegWatch Michelle Minton, Sr. Fellow from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of the exhaustive report “Fear Profiteers: How E-Cigarette Panic Benefits Health Activists,” pulls back the curtain to expose the motives and tactics behind the public health crusade against vaping. (Courtesy of Regulator Watch’s Youtube Channel)
After hearing all that, it can’t get any worse, right? Well sadly no. Many cities, towns, and boroughs have been taking the law into their own hands. They have either passed their own regulations for flavor bans, T21 policies or creating their own ‘sin’ tax on vaping. Lindsey Stroud wrote a very compelling piece about why the T21 policy just doesn’t work (if you have the chance we strongly recommend reading it). Raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 won’t prevent youth use, as much our lawmakers would like to believe it would, and it only punishes adults and the state’s revenues. Some states have tried to pass a wholesale tax or flavor bans on vaping products, like Vermont was facing a 92% wholesale tax and more recently New Mexico has proposed a flavor ban. States will continue to try to pass these bills, but we must stay vigilant and work hard to stop them. Virginia, for example, was facing the same 40% wholesale tax we have in PA, but thanks to VSFA and VTA, the bill was stopped. This applies to flavor bans, T21 policies, tax bills etc. It’s extremely important to join your state and national advocacy organizations if you haven’t already. Be a part of this fight and stand up for your business, your employees and your customers! Standing together, creating that united front, is the only way we can fight against false claims, coordinated attacks, and aggressive regulations.