More Good News for Vaping or Just Hot Air?
It’s actually not been a bad couple of months for the global vaping scene – but there’s still a way to go before e-cigarettes are totally accepted into the mainstream.
Yesterday the FDA [Food and Drugs Agency] announced its plans to revolutionize vaping in the US – more on that in a moment.
These huge US policy changes came hard on the heels of the recent Tobacco Control Plan released by the UK Government which some say is a clear indication of a softening attitude towards vaping.
New Zealand ‘legalized’ nicotine infused e-liquids a few weeks back and the Australian Government is now ‘reconsidering’ its ban on the same.
That’s four countries with a huge number of former smokers who now may be looking forward to a longer – healthier life through switching to what is becoming accepted more and more as a ‘safer alternative’ to smoking.
However, when we see other countries such as the criminalization of vaping in the Philippines – in India where reports of vapers in some states being imprisoned and even that shiny money making island of Singapore having an outright ban with threats of huge fines and prison sentences if ‘caught’ vaping – we can see there’s still a mountain to climb.
And how about Canada – a country normally quite sensible about things – it currently has very relaxed laws around the use of e-cigarettes – but that could all change.
It’s those meddling politicians again who are currently ‘looking’ at tightening laws via the Bill S-5 which – among other measures – wants to ban flavoured e-liquids – as San Francisco has recently done.
The Shadow of Big Tobacco
Putting my political hat on for a moment – let’s face it vaping is political in every sense of the word – let’s hope the relaxing of the US and UK Governments attitudes starts the domino effect and other countries climb aboard the e-cig freedom from smoke train.
Big Tobacco has always had a strong lobbying presence in politics – some might say money too – but even they can see which way the smoke is blowing hence the research and development into ‘heat rather than burn’ products and of course the move into the e-cig markets.
But hey this sudden interest in healthier nicotine delivery systems hasn’t stopped then targeting the third world as ‘new customers’ and flooding ‘poorer countries’ with flashy ads making smoking look cool again.
A recent study showed that 80% of the world’s smokers come from so called ‘poorer countries’ – as I’ve said in the past Big Tobacco has no shame – only a balance sheet.
So for all their ‘R&D’ into safer alternatives – at heart they are still peddling the cancer sticks but now focusing on those with limited access to the true facts surrounding their killer brands.
Like I said – shame on them.
Ok let’s look at the FDA’s announcement yesterday and see if indeed Gottlieb is the saviour of the vape.
Is Gottlieb Saving Vaping?
My Twitter timeline lit up last night with high praise and even higher fives for FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and his apparent ‘saving of the vape’ in the US.
As I’ve covered in the weekly Vaping News stories since his appointment – cancer survivor and one time vape investor [he had shares in a vape shop] – Gottlieb looked to be Trump’s chosen one to rid US vapers of the so called Deeming rule.
This you may remember was hailed as a threat that would ‘wipe out’ vaping businesses across America and pretty much decimate the US vaping scene.
However, he hasn’t actually ‘saved the vape’ at all – but he has given it time to breathe pledging a little over 4 more years before the current act is passed.
So as much as I love the team at A Billion Lives – their tweet was – I think – a little premature and rather excited – though I am a cynical old English hack not known to ‘gush’ or self-praise 😉
Sure this will give American vaping advocate groups time to come together and push for the complete scrapping of the Deeming bill – but as Vic Mullin so eloquently said on his show last week those groups are extremely fragmented and hardly the most shall we say ‘dynamic’.
And as Vic said America is huge and most vape advocacy groups are state based and it’s rare if ever they come together – or maybe they need the NNA to ride in like the US Cavalry used to do in those old Wild West Movies 😉
Anyway so let’s look at just what the vape saviour Gottlieb had to say – here’s the key moment and it comes quite early in his speech:
The goal is to ensure that the FDA has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
To make certain that the FDA is striking an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than cigarettes, the agency is also providing targeted relief on some timelines described in the May 2016 final rule that extended the FDA’s authority to additional tobacco products.
The agency will also seek input on critical public health issues such as the role of flavors in tobacco products.
Sounds great – however the key flaw here is lumping tobacco in with vaping again.
Yes I know vaping and smoking is joined at the hip – but it should not be lumped in with tobacco – period.
Though let’s face it even laboratory made nicotine that’s never seen a plant or sunlight is still classed as a tobacco product!
So until we get that major misnomer out of the way we might as well be banging our collective vaping heads against the wall.
Vaping is NOT Tobacco!!!
Vaping needs separate legislation it’s as simple as that – but until health groups and ridiculous scaremongers – such as those at the World Health Organization [WHO] – get their collective heads out of their ample well-funded asses that’s what we’re stuck with.
Anyway back to the vaping saviour’s speech.
The excellent Clive Bates has taken the meat off the bone of the speech so to speak and listed the key points.
He’s also asked the question is he being too nice in calling this announcement a ‘big win’ – I’d say maybe as this is certainly the first skirmish in what I fear will become a protracted war of many battles.
Let’s face it if Trump loses the next election Gottlieb may be replaced by a Democrat ‘chosen one’ and we know exactly where they stand on vaping [currently] – Deeming came in under their watch.
You can watch a video of the full Gottlieb speech HERE.
Key Points of the FDA Announcement
- 4 more years before companies have to go through the pricey red-tape and time consuming PMTAs – Premarket Tobacco Product Applications. Also a plan to cut the red-tape and make the process more efficient.
- E-cigarettes to have product standards – I’m guessing similar to the ones currently in use with the TPD and the MHRA
- A closer look at flavoured e-cigarettes and cigars – hey its only kids who like flavoured e-liquids right?
- Easier access to FDA approved ‘medicinal nicotine delivery products’. Because they work right? Do read my piece on Suicide or Vaping for my thoughts on FDA approved stop smoking ‘medicines’.
- A reduction of nicotine in cigarettes. This one is a bit of a head scratcher for me. Surely if there’s less nicotine in your fags you’ll smoke twice as many? But hey I’m not a scientist so what the hell would I know lol. But twice as many cigarettes surely means you’re spending twice as much which increases tax revenue and of course swells the coffers of big tobacco. So a win for Big Tobacco huh – who’da thought 😉
Like I said call me an cynical old hack 😉
Nicotine – Problem and Solution
Gottlieb hit the nail on the hand with the first line of the phrase:
Because nicotine lives at the core of both the problem and the solution to the question of addiction, addressing the addictive levels of nicotine in combustible cigarettes must be part of the FDA’s strategy for addressing the devastating, addiction crisis that is threatening American families.
Our approach to nicotine must be accompanied by a firm foundation of rules and standards for newly-regulated products. To be successful all of these steps must be done in concert and not in isolation.
Yes nicotine is at the heart of the matter as to whether vaping with nicotine e-liquid is contributing to the ‘addiction crisis that is threatening American families’ I’m not so sure – OK I think it’s a ridiculous comment.
We know that nicotine is addictive and we also know it’s none carcinogenic – it’s the smoke that kills NOT the nicotine – and nicotine is hardly causing a crisis given it has pretty much the same effects as caffeine – let’s ban tea and coffee!
But don’t let a good sound bite get in the way of the facts as I’m sure most politicians have drummed into them.
However, and as I touched on, surely reducing nicotine in cigarettes will only increase the amount smoked?
And not just that – has anyone considered that it ain’t the nicotine that kills its the rest of the stuff released through burning that does the damage?!
So in effect they are removing most of the stuff that doesn’t kill – but leaving the rest in – *bang head on desk here*.
As vapers who packed up the cancer sticks we did OK on our own when it came to nicotine consumption.
Hands up who began vaping around 18 to 20mg and are now on 6 – 3 or even zero mg?
We didn’t need legislation or ‘support’ to reduce our intake – we did it ourselves – left alone and armed with the facts and freedom of choice we can be quite a sensible bunch us humans 😉
Reactions to Gottlieb’s Speech
As I already mentioned Clive Bates welcomed the news:
Basically, I’m calling a big ‘win’ for the pro-harm reduction public health camp in the United States, consumer advocates as well as those who have been working tirelessly at every level of the industry from vape shop to multinational.
Sen. Ron Johnson who has long campaigned against Deeming and is most definitely pro-vaping said:
For over a year I have conducted oversight of this harmful rule and have urged the FDA to rein in this regulation. I am pleased that Commissioner Gottleib has listened to industry and consumer concerns in loosening the FDA’s regulatory grip over e-cigarette manufacturers.
I encourage the FDA to work closely with stakeholders so that this growing industry can continue to innovate and provide consumers with a safer alternative to smoking.
Professor Linda Bauld – deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies – told the Guardian she welcomed the move but warned that reducing nicotine in cigarettes could backfire with folks smoking more for their ‘hit’ – however she welcomed the 4 year breathing space:
[The FDA] want to shift people to alternative products like vaping which is good, but there are a number of risks…I think that is good news [date shift] for trying to shift smokers to vaping products – which all evidence suggests are safer.
However Matthew L Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids – who consistently links the dangers of flavoured e-liquids to kids getting addicted to nicotine [??!!] was not so welcoming:
This long delay will allow egregious, kid-friendly e-cigarettes and cigars, in flavours like gummy bear, cherry crush and banana smash, to stay on the market with little oversight.
So is Vaping Saved?
Look, I know I’m a cynical grumpy anti-government meddling old sod but even I can see there’s daylight peeping through the dark forest [pun intended] of anti vaping legislation.
The UK’s recent Tobacco Control Plan whilst tipping the wink to the benefits of vaping did find it necessary to suggest ‘medicalising’ e-cigarettes and America looks to be suggesting a similar path.
I’m against that for many reasons but mostly because Governments have an iron grip on medicines and let’s face it Big Pharma are the same as Big Tobacco – profit before people.
As in the more drugs they sell the more money for the shareholders and corporations – if a cure all was invented they’d be out of business overnight – so they need sick people to remain sick in order for their coffers to swell and survive as an industry!
The same can be said for Big Tobacco – their move into ‘smokeless and flavoured tobacco’ is an attempt to keep smokers hooked nothing more nothing less.
You only have to see their marketing campaigns in the Third World to see that.
So for me whilst Gottlieb has fired the opening shots in the war against vaping there’s many battles left to fight and until the two main American advocacy groups are both called to arms to actually do something or another one is formed – then the state of vaping in the states will remain as it is – uncertain.
What is certain is a vibrant and dedicated pro-vaping organization needs to be formed NOW in order to have any impact at all.
For all their fancy websites and platitudes as I’ve already said the two larger advocacy groups in the USA have hardly covered themselves in ‘old glory’.
The New Nicotine Alliance has shown themselves to be a powerful and positive force in the UK and the wider Europe and have now taken on the might of the Australian government.
I’m just wondering if we should all chip in to send Dave Dorn on a whistle-stop tour of the ‘land of the free’ – on a Harley of course – and see if he can bang the collective heads of the splintered US advocacy groups together to form a group with a bit more muscle – stranger things have happened 😉
After all when America tends to act – in good or bad ways – the rest of the world [mostly] tends to follow its lead.
Just imagine how the face of vaping as we know it would change for the better if Uncle Sam and Uncle Dave put their formidable force behind it.