As we have come to expect, once again, e-cigarettes and vaping has hit yet another roadblock. This weekend, the “Cole-Bishop” amendment was scrapped by Congress during the newly passed Congressional budget. This amendment would have sheltered most vaping and e-cig products on the market currently from a costly and rigorous FDA approval process (future products would go through the FDA approval process — very reasonable). However, apparently it wasn’t reasonable to the money-hungry Congressmen.
The Cole-Bishop Amendment
This amendment was submitted in a bipartisan show of support by Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA), both supporters of preserving vaping rights. This amendment would have allowed electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) and related vaping products that were already on the market (from the predicate date of February 15, 2007, through potentially August 8, 2016), to qualify for less-stringent approval process from the FDA.
The Issue is Not Over Yet
The good news is that this nixing of the amendment may not be the last say on the matter. There is some hope hanging on two measures: one is a stand-alone version of the Cole-Bishop Amendment submitted by Cole in mid-April, and the second is a more recent bill from the “vaping congressman,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who is asking that e-cigs be removed completely from the FDA’s “deeming rule.”
I could not care less about political affiliation at this point — when it comes to vaping, using e-cigs and vaping products is a harm reduction tool that everyone involved agrees upon. Hopefully the remaining amendment/bill will go through and give the vaping industry a break from the FDA’s ridiculous desire for approving old products already on the shelf — very ex post facto — very un-American.
Not a Health Issue — A Money Issue
While the FDA claims they wish to have vaping manufacturers send all old products from 2007 to 2016 already on the shelves to their costly and rigorous approval process, because they want to make sure it’s “safe,” this is really about the FDA and the money they receive from the government and other special interests.
The vaping industry is already okay with submitting all new products in for testing and approval — even though it will continue to raise the costs of products, take a lot of time, and put more vape shops out of business. But for the FDA, this isn’t enough — for monetary and political reasons, this governmental agency wants e-cigs, vape devices, and all related products from over a decade ago to 2016 tested as well. This is completely ridiculous and unreasonable.
Unlikely Anything Will be Decided Upon Quickly
The president of the American Vaping Association, Gregory Conley, has stated that it i unlikely that Congress will enact Rep. Hunter’s bill anytime soon. “Getting vapor out of the Tobacco Control Act is an obvious long-term goal for vapor consumers and the industry,” he stated. The Hunter bill “is a great conversation starter and a great way to have meetings and build up support.”
Mr. Conley also points out that measure like the Cole-Bishop amendment would limit the grandfather clause to products made before August 8, 2016. This is something the FDA should accept and not fight. Because products on the market before that date would still be put through an FDA approval process, but since they are products that have already been released (up to a decade ago), it would be a less costly, less strict process.
This would be great for the vaping industry (and vaping as an industry unto itself would be saved with this amendment) because most vaping products were not on the market in 2007 — however, it leaves little room for innovation of products after 2016.
What We’re Likely to See From Here
Conley has predicted that regardless of whether the Hunter bill or the Cole-Bishop amendment passes, we will likely see new products only sold in China, the U.K., or Belgium — and this includes products that improve the safety of e-cig and vaping devices of the future.
There is some hope for the future of the vaping industry, however. The fight certainly isn’t over in Congress, by vaping consumers, by vaping manufacturers, vape shops, entrepreneurs, overseas manufacturers, or the FDA. The American Vaping Association president promises that efforts will be redoubled and will not just focus on Congress, but on the executive branch, including the department of Health and Human Services.
This is a wise decision since killing the vaping industry would be a disaster for public health, small businesses, and a major victory for Big Tobacco, the FDA, and those being paid to keep the status quo.