A lot has happened since the FDA’s proposed vaping regulations came out in April 2014. A strong back-and-forth has occurred between pro-vaping advocates and various public health advocates such as the American Heart Association, the CDC, and the California Department of Public Health. These entities barrage the public daily with dubious claims about vaping’s effect on health, and the industry’s supposed attempt to market vaping products to youth.
The following guest post is brought to us by John Fargo. As always, all content is the responsibility of the author.
After years of debate, disagreement and sledging away at the other side, the chickens are close to coming home to roost. According to some projections, the FDA is scheduled to release its final regulations regarding electronic cigarettes in June 2015…only 1 week away from the time that this article was written.
What are vapers up against in 2015, and what can they do about it?
- Declining General Public / Smoking Public Support for Ecigs
These scare tactics appear to be having a tangible effect on the general and smoking public. According to a report by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the number of smokers who believed that vaping was safer than smoking has decreased drastically—down from 85% in 2010, to 65% in 2013.
If support amongst cigarette smokers for vaping wanes, we cannot expect it to resonate with the general public.
- The Eradication of Virtually All Contemporary Ecigs from the Market
If the proposed regulations do come to fruition next month or in the near future, the electronic cigarette market will change as we know it. Pre-market review will be required for new products introduced after February 2007 (hope you don’t like sub-ohm vaping or anything other than cigalikes), which will require hundreds of thousands of dollars of approval from the FDA prior to the product being released.
- Increased traction of arguments claiming that ecigs target children.
From our research, most of the opposition to vaping is based on the red herring argument of stating that vaping products are intentionally designed to appeal to minors. In reality, the number of smoking teenagers has drastically decreased since the popularization of electronic cigarettes; and even though the number of teens using ecigs has increased, the overall use of tobacco products by teens has drastically decreased. However, individuals such as the head of the Center of Disease Control, Dr. Tim Frieden, gloss over this fact, and instead see electronic cigaretts as something that is “harm[ing] hundreds of thousands of children.” Generally, he sees electronic cigarettes as a gateway into cigarette use.
Interestingly, Dr. Frieden essentially acknowledges that “stick to stick, [ecigs] are almost certainly less toxic than cigarettes”.
- State Regulations
And let’s put aside the federal level for a second: consider the local and state onslaught of regulations.
CASAA tracks closely the new proposed regulations coming from state and local governments. What is troubling to us is the increase in the velocity of new proposed state and local regulations. Although many of the proposed regulations amount to more of an inconvenience than anything else (such as prohibitions against vaping inside, or prohibitions against giving samples), many of the regulations are set to cripple business. Take, for example, Texas’ Senate Bill 97, which would put huge restrictions on selling online, and would require that all brick and mortar vendors in the state run a purchaser’s ID through an ID verification system prior to making a sale. This transcends the usual quick ID check you may expect when you buy something at the liquor store: this scanning technology would cost approximately $7 per swipe!
Taxes are beginning to tighten. We already know that in Minnesota, eJuice containing nicotine is taxable at a rate of 95% of its wholesale price. More and more states (or their local governments) are seeking to tax e-cigarettes. As of the time of writing, attempts to do this are present in Ohio, Kansas, Rhode Island, and some of their municipalities like Montgomery, Colorado.
Regardless of the proposed regulation being an innocuous nuisance, or an industry-crippling measure, the increase in the velocity and severity of these proposed regulations show that the general public is becoming more and more wary of vaping.
What can you do?
In general, most vapers agree with the regulations proposed in CASAA’s position paper on electronic cigarettes: prohibiting sales to minors, reasonable manufacturing standards, labeling, childproof packaging and the likes.
However, vapers are tired of health advocates’ attempts to brand vaping as a deliberate attempt by big tobacco to indoctrinate kids into thinking “smoking is cool again”. Millions of adult vapers the world over have used ecigs as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.
I write this article because, truthfully, the end of vaping as we know it could be a lot closer than we would like to acknowledge. Luckily, there is work you can to do help fight back:
- Become closely involved with CASAA.
You can look at all upcoming CASAA calls to action. If there is something in your state or municipality, or in a nearby one, participate in their letter / email writing campaigns. Elected officials hearing from real vapers and their perspective is a powerful tool in our arsenal towards fighting back against unreasonable regulations.
- Read Reddit’s eCig subreddit on a regular basis.
This is arguably vaping’s largest online community, with about 100,000 members. Issues regarding regulatory changes pop up from time to time. Pay attention to Reddit, and become involved when you can.
- Seek out opportunities to comment on articles about vaping.
As the general public’s knowledge of vaping increases, more and more mainstream publications report on it. Even a quick search on Google shows a huge increase in the amount of reporting. Use the Google News feature once a week to check out new articles on the topic of vaping, and write a comment in when you can. When more and more vapers do this, the general public becomes more and more aware of the true nature of vaping.
You can also check out our website for a list of resources to spread the word about vaping.
John Fargo is the director of marketing at Hookah Pen King, the nation’s #1 vape trick supply store. John is passionate about vaping advocacy issues, and follows them for the company. This article is his first on these issues.