America is facing a deepening vape crisis with bans coming thick and fast leaving advocacy groups and vapers reeling from attacks from all sides.
Now the Vapor Technology Association [VTA] has come up with an 11 step set of solutions it wants to discuss with the Trump administration – more on that in a moment.
Meanwhile the VTA, along with New York based e-liquid company Benevolent e-Liquids, Inc and retailer Perfection Vapes, have filed a lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health [NYSDOH]and Public Health and Health Planning Council [PHHPC] in a bid to stop the statewide ban.
Whilst in another law suit – this time in Illinois, Marc Slis, owner of 906 Vapor in Houghton County IL, has filed for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the state vape ban set to trigger on October 2nd this year.
Then we have under siege JUUL and its CEO Kevin Burns ‘stepping down’ and replaced by Big Tobacco careerist – former Phillip Morris and Altria boss K.C Crosthwaite. The company also announced a complete shutdown of its advertising campaign.
And last but not least we have a curious announcement amid the vape crisis from a new Big Pharma company, Hava Health, that’s seeking FDA approval to market a new type of ‘vaporizer’.
Key here is it appears the company has received funding from, among others, anti-vaping billionaire Michael Bloomberg – the guy who just pumped $160million into the anti-vape campaigners coffers! More on that in a moment too!
Like I said things are moving extremely fast over the pond right now with breaking vape news every few minutes!
So let’s break things down and first the VTA’s offer of an olive branch to the Trump administration.
VTA Offers Solutions Not Protests
The VTA rightly says outright bans serve no purpose and in particular do not address the supposed ‘teen vaping crisis‘ nor the marketing of all things vape.
Apart from the obvious public health issues, it says the complete shutdown of the USA vape industry would also be an economic disaster costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and the closure of very many vape business – both big and small.
The VTA says:
Fortunately, many alternatives to a flavor ban exist to directly address youth vaping, while preserving 14,000 small businesses and preventing a significant adverse economic impact.
VTA calls on the Administration, FDA, FTC and lawmakers to come together with the industry to implement meaningful and critical alternatives that have thus far been unaddressed.
So let’s look at the 11 step solution they’ve come up with and believe me – they are tough:
- Tobacco 21 – Raise the age from 18 to 21 to purchase tobacco and nicotine vapor products, instead of restricting flavors.
- Implement Strict Marketing Standards to prevent nicotine vapor products from being marketed to or attractive to youth.
- Close Loopholes by Banning Sales on Third-Party Marketplaces like Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, et al.
- “Three Strikes and You’re Out” for any retailer accumulating three violations in three years for selling nicotine vapor products to minors lose the right to sell nicotine vapor products.
- Restrict Sale of “Super High Nicotine” Products to Adult-Only Stores.
- Tax, Enforce & Educate. Impose taxes and/or user fees to pay for education and enforcement by implementing a 3% ad valorem tax and/or user fees on vapor products instead of restricting flavors.
- Ban Self Service Displays. Require all tobacco products, including vapor products, to be behind a counter or in a locked display and accessible only by an employee.
- Point of Sale Age Verification. Require use of third-party age verification software or technology for all online sales and all brick and mortar sales.
- Brick & Mortar Warning Signs. Tobacco product retailers must display signage indicating that (a) “Unaccompanied Minors Are Not Allowed on Premises” or (b) “Products are Not for Sale to Minors” or (c) “Underage Sale Prohibited.”
- End “Straw Man” Sellers. Make it illegal for any person who is not a licensed tobacco product dealer to sell, barter for, or exchange any tobacco product.
- End Bulk Sales. Prohibit the retail sale of more than 2 devices or 5 packages/bottles of e-liquids in one transaction.
As I said, these are tough suggestions but they need to be if the VTA is to be taken seriously.
You can read the full details and reasoning behind each proposal here: VTA Vaping Regulation Proposals.
Executive Director of the Vapor Technology Association, Tony Abboud, says the VTA has been campaigning at state and federal level for the past 2 years believing bans don’t work but regulations on marketing practices do:
…we call on regulators and lawmakers to come together with the industry to formally implement meaningful and critical alternatives that have thus far been unaddressed.
To be clear, removing flavors in nicotine-containing vapor products will not address any of the serious illness issues that the CDC and FDA are reviewing since over 80% of those tragic incidents are being tied to the use of black market THC products, not store-bought FDA-registered and FDA-regulated nicotine vapor products (otherwise known as e-cigarettes).
Regulators at the federal and state levels have refused to clearly acknowledge the direct link between black market THC products and the recent outbreak of lung illnesses, and are instead focused on implementing flavor bans that would adversely impact the American public.
Most importantly, continuing down the road of banning flavors will only cause millions of adult smokers and former smokers to go back to smoking or rely on what will be a new and larger black market.
Can’t argue with that and whilst some of the proposals seem harsh and even punitive, I think they needed to be if the politicians are even slightly minded to do a 180.
Though looking at the ferocity and vociferousness of the growing anti-vape campaigners over the pond who appear to have the lawmakers running scared…one doubts they’ll listen – but it’s still the right move IMHO.
More USA Vape Bans Incoming
As I reported in this week’s Vaping News, the Governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, was readying a vape ban and did just that.
She signed an ‘Executive Order’ banning all e-liquid and pod flavours amidst what she called a “public health crisis”.
The ban order goes into effect early next week and runs for 120 days with the option of increasing it by another 60.
She stopped short of an outright vape ban – like the one proposed in New Jersey – and told the media:
I have come to the conclusion that this is a public health crisis for our children.
If you look at the way these flavored products are marketed.
It’s not right. I mean, look at this.
It looks like a cereal box.
What adult do you know who drinks strawberry milk?
Errrm – I do…and I’m guessing so do millions of other adults.
The Governor has now formed a Vaping Advisory Group to look more closely at vaping and to see what other measures the state can mandate.
Cuomo Convincing Connecticut Governor To Ban Vaping
Not satisfied with banning flavoured e-liquids and pods in the state of New York, Governor Cuomo is now a man on a mission.
He held a meeting with the Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont and urged him to ban flavours in his state too!
Lamont appeared to support the call telling the press:
I don’t know what I can do by executive order, but I’m going to be very strong going forward.
However he did suggest more funding for smoking cessation groups saying the $200 million siphoned to such schemes wasn’t enough especially as the state had received $2 billion from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement!
I wrote about those back in January this year when Gottlieb warned the US vape industry it was under an”existential threat”.
Sadly he’ll have a tough job convincing local politicians for more stop smoking cash as they say it’s needed for among other things infrastructure…nice to see state politicians placing the health of its populace above all things…
Governor Of Kansas Ready To Ban Vaping?
There’s been two deaths in Kansas believed to be linked to contaminated cannabis cartridges – the most recent a man in his fifties understood to have had “underlying medical conditions”.
Now Governor Laura Kelly says she’s working ‘tirelessly’ with her own health department and other states to tackle the ‘crisis’.
She told reporters:
Today, I am saddened to announce the death of a second Kansan in association with this outbreak.
Dr. Lee Norman and his team with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are working tirelessly with other states and organizations to gather facts on e-cigarettes and its effects.
We are coordinating a response to combat this epidemic, so that families can avoid such tragic outcomes.
Yesterday Dr Norman gave testimony to the United States House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and doesn’t appear to be a supporter of vaping.
Before the meeting he said:
E-cigarettes are unregulated, which means that we don’t know what’s in them.
And, of great concern to me, is that in the midst of all these illnesses being reported, the amount of young people using them is significant.
Doesn’t look good in Kansas anymore Toto…
As it stands now at the time of writing there are plenty of rumblings across America concerning more flavour and vape bans – as always as they come to light we’ll let you know.
Please Note: reports circulating yesterday the FDA was considering a complete countrywide flavour ban to begin next month is NOT the case.
Acting FDA commissioner Norman ‘Ned’ Sharpless made this VERY clear in this Tweet yesterday:
“The FDA must do more,” Dr. Sharpless tells the subcommittee members. “FDA is not banning flavors,” but the agency intends to enforce existing law that limits the marketing of the products. pic.twitter.com/QT21NfMZPh
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) September 25, 2019
However, and I can’t stress this enough – all these flavour and outright bans and any success advocacy groups have NOW, will all be to no avail once the FDA’s PMTA process kicks in next May.
Unless all the vape and e-liquid companies across the globe submit expensive FDA Premarket Tobacco Agreements and are successful. If not they will NOT be allowed to sell their product in the USA.
Please read the two articles I’ve written on PMTAs – I suggest as a matter of urgency:
- Vaping In America Faces Total Devastation As Anti-Vape Legislation Is Moved Forward
- Forget Flavour Bans the PMTA Process Is the REAL Threat To US Vapers
JUUL CEO ‘Steps Down
The company many believe sparked the current vaping crisis has announced its CEO Kevin Burns has ‘stepped down’.
His replacement is KC Crosthwaite – too cool it appears to have a first name…initials only with this guy.
He’s a Big Tobacco careerist who’s worked for both Phillip Morris and spin off corporation Altria – that owns 35% of JUUL.
JUUL also announced it was stopping all advertising campaigns immediately and of greater significance is it will be stopping all lobbying too.
A case of once again when the vape industry needed to stand shoulder to shoulder JUUL throws it under the bus…again – read my article: JUUL Capitulates As FDA Announces Clampdown On Flavoured E-Cigarettes.
You can’t help thinking JUUL has played the long game here by continually distancing itself from the vape industry – following the mood of the anti-vape brigade and as I said before – allowing the FDA to shut down all opposition leaving it with the spoils of a complete flavour ban…just my cynical old head thinking out loud…
I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like JUUL.
That has been this company’s mission since it was founded, and it has taken great strides in that direction.
Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry.
Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate.
That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.
Like I said, suck up to the Government and screw the vape industry.
Outgoing CEO Kevin Burns said:
I am very proud of my team’s efforts to lead the industry toward much needed category-wide action to tackle underage usage of these products, which are intended for adult smokers only.
Since joining JUUL Labs, I have worked non-stop, helping turn a small firm into a worldwide business, so a few weeks ago I decided that now was the right time for me to step down.
I am grateful to be able to confidently hand the reins to someone with K.C.’s skill set, which is well-suited to the next phase of the company’s journey.
Definitely the smell of spin from the PR team there lol.
USA ‘Save the Vape Day’ Announced
Campaigners hoping to halt the current spate of vape and flavour bans sweeping across America say they need your cash!
Imagine my shock.
Organizers say the national ‘Save Vaping Day‘ to be held on Monday, October 7th, will raise cash for advocacy groups the American Vaping Association (AVA) and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA).
They’re hoping vape shops and companies will donate part or all of their profits on that day to enable the groups to ‘fight’ the current bans.
AVA will use donated funds to support the expansion of their current operation, including a major professional public relations effort with a firm that specializes in crisis communications.
They don’t mention what CASAA will do with the cash…
I’m trying to be objective here…but isn’t it all a bit late?
Here’s what I wrote under the title US Advocacy Groups Fiddle Whilst the American Vaping Industry Burns – that was back in October LAST year – here’s a quote from what I said:
So there you have it – no-one in vaping apart from a couple of vape famous reviewers and a few industry insiders and influencers are circling the wagons and preparing to fight the devastation that if left unchecked the FDA will reap on vaping in the largest democracy in the world.
So by all means send them your cash – but remember the PMTA process is looming and that is going to be the mother of all vape battles.
They did have a Facebook page but that seems to have been removed but you can find them on Twitter.
and finally…the Curious Case Of the Billionaires And the ‘New’ Vaporizer’
Amid all the hysteria and vape bans a new Big Pharma based company backed my billionaires has released early details of a new ‘vaporizer’.
Hava Health say they’ve created the “first vaporizer designed for smoking cessation.”
Despite the launch being a couple of years away, the company has already approached the FDA for approval.
The company is owned by Josh Israel and Devin Serago who say:
We’re not revolutionizing a completely new product.
The understanding of vaporizer has been around for 10 years plus… patented a new design to let people do what we set out to do which is to actually help people quit smoking.
I think you’ll find millions of us across the world have successfully quit with the vaporizers we have already…talk about confidence from ones so young lol.
We’re not another vape device or another e-cigarette.
Our mission is to actually help people quit their addiction to nicotine.
See what I mean? The ‘confidence’ is high with these guys.
The company says they’re not in direct competition with the vape scene as such but want to go up against Big Pharma’s patches – sprays and gums adding:
What we do is we separate nicotine from the other compounds.
We reduce the nicotine as we leave the other oils the same.
Over time we reduce the nicotine and increase the clean oils and we get them to zero percent.
Sounds a bit like starting on 18mg nicotine e-liquid and getting down to 3 or even zero mg to me…
Anyway rumours are rife that Bill Gates and wait for it Michael Bloomberg – yeah that guy the one behind all the anti-vape soccer mom campaigns – are helping to fund the team.
Billionaire Bloomberg you might recall, recently pumped $160million dollars into a number of anti-vape groups…
‘Interesting’ timing indeed and I’ll file this one under things that make you go ummmmmm.
More vape news on Sunday and of course we’ll keep you bang up to date with the state of the vape in the USA.