Paul Blair

A Trump Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes Will Cost Him the 2020 Election: Data on 12 Important Swing States

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019, 5:49 PM PERMALINK

Over the past week, President Donald Trump has been considering an outright ban on nearly every electronic cigarette and vapor product on the market. Not only would the implementation of a flavor ban be disastrous for public health, but it may cost Trump the election in 2020.

In a piece for the Washington Examiner, I explained:

"Internal polling conducted by Americans for Tax Reform in October 2016, just five months after the Obama administration announced their own timeline for a de facto e-cigarette ban, found that 4 out of 5 adult vapers' vote-moving issue was where a politician stood on the issue of taxing, regulating, and banning e-cigarettes."

What might that mean in 2020? If you look at the 12 states which will likely determine the outcome of the election, based on the margin of victory or loss by Donald Trump in 2016 and changing political currents, there are at least 4.15 million adults in battleground states that use electronic cigarettes, according to FDA-funded survey data. Those states include Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Georgia, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine, Arizona, and Nevada.

Here's how that breaks down per state (click to enlarge): 

(Click to enlarge an excel version of this graphic.)

If voter turnout holds flat in 2020 over 2016, there are roughly 2.55 million vaper voters scattered across these 12 key battleground states. The data on the number of adult vapers may underestimate the true figure because adult use of these products has increased in the last two years. To ignore that these adults have used e-cigarettes to quit smoking cigarettes, something that they're proud of and strongly believe in would be among the biggest political miscalculations of the presidential campaign in 2020. Not only do these people rightly attribute the use of flavored nicotine products to saving their lives, but their family members, friends, and neighbors have likely heard their stories as well.

If Trump wants to depress voter turnout or turn voters away from his winning message in states where the margin of victory could be just a few thousand votes, banning flavored nicotine e-cigarettes would be a great way to go about it.

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Michigan Governor Announces Unilateral Plan to Ban Nearly All Electronic Cigarettes

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019, 10:40 PM PERMALINK

Today, Governor Grechen Whitmer (D-Mich.) announced plans for the first-in-the-nation statewide ban on the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and vapor products. Her unprecedented actions were announced as part of a “public health emergency,” which she argues gives her the power to implement a ban without legislative approval. If implemented, this ban will destroy thousands of jobs, send hundreds of thousands of ex-smokers back to combustible cigarettes, and could create political turmoil in the swing state of Michigan. 

A version of the “Protection of Youth from Nicotine Product Addition Emergency Rules” obtained by Americans for Tax Reform sheds light on the shaky basis for the use of an “emergency” for prohibition. In the rule to be filed with the Secretary of State in the coming weeks, the governor argues: 

  • “Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking combustible cigarettes”;
  • The youth “epidemic can be attributed to the appeal of flavored vapor and alternative nicotine products”;
  • “Prohibiting the retail sale of flavored vapor and alternative nicotine products will result in less product available on the market… which should ultimately result in decreased youth tobacco use.”


The ban applies to all flavored non-combustible nicotine products, including those with mint and menthol flavoring, and makes an absurd jump to over-criminalize the mere possession of vapor products. In an unpublished draft of the rules, “a person who possesses four or more flavored vapor products, or flavored alternative nicotine products is rebuttably presumed to possess said items with the intent to sell,” a misdemeanor offense and punishable with up to 6 months in prison in the state of Michigan. 

Criminalizing the possession of as few as four e-cigarettes flies in the face of voters’ growing sentiments about personal choices when it comes to consumer products, namely marijuana. In 2018, Michigan became the 10th state in the country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana when 56% of voters approved the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. The voter initiative legalized possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and allows homeowners to grow up to 12 plants of marijuana in their homes. Dispensaries are expected to open soon. 

The pending ban of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and new legalization of THC/marijuana, which can be consumed through e-cigarettes is puzzling. Adults in Michigan in 2020, under Gov. Whitmer’s agenda, will be able to smoke to get high but not vape nicotine to reduce their dependence on combustible cigarettes. 

Beyond consumer product liberalization paradoxes, this move also stands to harm public health. Millions of adults are using flavored e-cigarettes that contain nicotine to reduce or eliminate their dependence on cigarettes, the use of which results in the premature death of more than 400,000 American adults annually. The growing global scientific consensus is that compared to combustible cigarettes, e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes, a fact even acknowledged by the American Food and Drug Administration. Removing these products from store shelves will leave hundreds of thousands of current and former smokers few options other than to continue or return to smoking cigarettes, products untouched by the governor’s planned ban.

It should be noted that the basis of the governor’s ban is without merit on grounds of a “gateway effect” for vaping as well. Contrary to her claims, e-cigarettes have not proven to be a gateway to smoking, evident by the fact that despite youth experimentation with the products, smoking rates among teens has fallen in recent years. In fact, new data from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that only 2.7% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 reported smoking cigarettes in 2018, down from 3.2% in 2017. Even more compelling is the fact that youth initiation of cigarette use declined from 2.4% in 2017 to 2.3% in 2018. Overall, there has been a 79% decline in cigarette smoking since NSDUH first measured use in 2002. 

Data from the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey indicated a similar decline in use of cigarettes, down from 5.4% in 2017 to 4.6% in 2018 among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders (which included 18-year-olds who can legally smoke). This same survey indicated that past-month use of marijuana for seniors in high school stood at 22.2%, compared to 7.6% of seniors who had reported smoking cigarettes in the past month. 

Going even further into the available data to include the use of all traditional tobacco products (cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco), just 4.2% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 reported use of these products in 2018, down from 4.9% in 2017 according to the NSDUH.

(Click for larger image)

There is no basis for the governor’s claim that adolescent experimentation with e-cigarettes is resulting in higher smoking rates among teens. As such, limiting the options that adults have in the consumer marketplace is clearly an attempt to generate national headlines in the name of a fake “public health emergency" without regard for the law, context for the use of other products, or public health consequences. 

Jacob Sullum at Reason notes, “Whitmer's e-cigarette ban rests on a breathtakingly broad reading of her authority to make emergency rules in the name of ‘public health,’ however she defines it.”

Even if the Republican-led legislature in Michigan fails to intervene, it is not likely that businesses or consumers will sit idly by as prohibition comes to pass.

The Vapor Technology Association responded to the announcement by saying that it “will evaluate every option at its disposal, including litigation, to prevent implementation of this ban. The Governor’s unprecedented misstep will force a mass exodus of products from the market and will result in what the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) itself has described as “a public health crisis” as a result.” VTA estimates that more than 1,200 jobs are and $51 million in state and local tax revenue is on the line with this decision.

The American Vaping Association responded by saying, "These businesses and their customers will not go down without a fight. We look forward to supporting the lawsuits that now appear necessary to protect the right of adults to access these harm reduction products."

Reports suggest that once finalized, the rule will provide retailers 30 days to clear out their inventory of flavored vapor products and will remain in effect for six months before subsequent regulatory and legislative actions are required.  

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FEC Filings Show Donald Trump’s New Acting FDA Commissioner Backed Barack Obama and Other Democrats

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Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, March 12th, 2019, 7:52 PM PERMALINK

At a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee today, the Director of the National Cancer Institute Norman “Ned” Sharpless was announced as the next acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The current commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, recently announced that he was resigning to spend more time with his family. 

Publicly available records from the Federal Elections Commission reveal that Ned Sharpless has contributed thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates for federal office, including Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. A review of FEC filings show:

Sharpless has not been announced as President Trump's formal nominee and there may be other candidates under consideration for the position, which faces a Senate confirmation.

Earlier today, Americans for Tax Reform's Paul Blair issued a statement on Sharpless:

“As the head of the National Cancer Institute, Ned Sharpless knows firsthand the potential benefit of transitioning millions of adult smokers away from cigarettes with proven-effective and less harmful e-cigarettes. However long he’s in charge, I'm hopeful he’ll have less of an interest in scaring suburban moms and more of an interest in reducing the cancer and disease associated with cigarette use by preserving the ability of adults to access a wide range of vapor products. He can begin by fulfilling the perhaps forgotten promise of Scott Gottlieb to issue clear guidance on how to bring new reduced risk products to market.”

Photo Credit: Flickr: Greg Stokinger

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ATR Statement on Acting FDA Commissioner


Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, March 12th, 2019, 3:15 PM PERMALINK

Today, Dr. Ned Sharpless was named acting commissioner of the FDA. Sharpless will assume the role after current commissioner Scott Gottlieb steps down. ATR’s Paul Blair issued the following statement:

“As the head of the National Cancer Institute, Ned Sharpless knows firsthand the potential benefit of transitioning millions of adult smokers away from cigarettes with proven-effective and less harmful e-cigarettes. However long he’s in charge, I'm hopeful he’ll have less of an interest in scaring suburban moms and more of an interest in reducing the cancer and disease associated with cigarette use by preserving the ability of adults to access a wide range of vapor products. He can begin by fulfilling the perhaps forgotten promise of Scott Gottlieb to issue clear guidance on how to bring new reduced risk products to market.”


ATR Statement on Inclusion of Vapor Product User Fees in Trump's 2020 Budget

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, March 11th, 2019, 1:51 PM PERMALINK

In his 2020 “Budget for a Better America,” President Donald Trump is calling upon Congress to impose a new $100 million "user fee" on manufacturers of electronic cigarettes and vapor products. The proposal would raise the current Food and Drug Administration user fee cap of $712 million by $100 million and be indexed to inflation. Pushed in the name of “tackling the ‘epidemic of youth e-cigarette use,” this tax would further enable the FDA's anti-vaping spending spree and it flies in the face of public health, consumer choice, and the rest of the president’s tax and regulatory agenda. 

Americans for Tax Reform calls upon Congress to reject any and all efforts to impose new taxes on life-saving alternatives to cigarettes in the United States, including e-cigarettes. 

This announcement comes just one week after FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced his retirement from the agency, effective next month. Commissioner Gottlieb has been critical of the e-cigarette industry, threatening to force manufacturers to remove flavored e-cigarettes from convenience stores and other large retail chains. In response to the budget announcement, Gottlieb applauded the new tax, claiming that it would help the agency take “aggressive steps to reduce [e-cigarettes] appeal and access to kids.” 

People under the age of 18 are already prohibited by law from purchasing e-cigarettes. Raising the cost of producing and selling e-cigarettes will make the products less appealing to adults who smoke cigarettes, striking a blow to decades of efforts to improve public health by reducing cigarette use in the United States. 

The tobacco product user fee is currently calculated based on the amount of excise taxes that a manufacturer has paid. The FDA uses these resources to regulate the industry. In order to collect new user fees from a company, Congress would also have to pass a new national tax on e-cigarette companies. The proposal to impose $100 million in new user fees, indexed to inflation, would only be applied after Congress authorized a new excise tax on e-cigarettes, unless Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations was revised. 

This request would grease the skids for a national vapor tax and should be rejected without further consideration. 

ATR’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Paul Blair issued the following statement in response to a call for $100 million in user fees on e-cigarette manufacturers:

“FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s departure can’t come soon enough. His constant threats to remove e-cigarettes from convenience store shelves flies in the face of the President’s broader regulatory objectives and will ultimately harm public health. 

It’s unfortunate, however, that a proposed tax increase championed by Gottlieb has made its way into the President’s budget. We’re hopeful that Congress rejects this misguided assault on the life-saving potential of e-cigarettes and that the Senate replaces Gottlieb with someone who champions the cause of consumer freedom, innovation, and tobacco harm reduction.” 

 

Photo Credit: Flickr: Cafe Credit

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ATR Leads Coalition Urging President Trump to Halt the FDA's Regulatory Assault on E-Cigarettes

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, February 4th, 2019, 12:30 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Reform President Grover Norquist led a coalition of free market, limited government, and conservative organizations calling on President Donald Trump to halt the Food and Drug Administration's aggressive regulatory assault on businesses who sell electronic cigarettes and vapor products in the United States. In recent months, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has acted in a manner inconsistent with the president's regulatory agenda, pressuring manufacturers to remove products from store shelves, suggesting new rules that would ban products currently on the market, and failing to act on pending product applications of innovative alternatives to cigarettes. Even worse, he's promised to go further.

As the letter explains:

"FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s effort to curb the $6.6 billion electronic cigarette industry and an even larger reduced risk tobacco alternatives market is inconsistent with your clearly articulated deregulatory objectives and will destroy jobs, limit consumer freedoms, and harm public health."

From the 2016 campaign to President Trump's first set of executive orders, deregulation has been a top priority for this administration. That agenda has had a positive impact on taxpayers and the conomy. 

"Your leadership, Orders, and deregulatory efforts have led to historic and important relief for the American people, with over $33 billion in savings alone through October of last year. Across every department and agency, your administration has not only identified harmful regulations but worked to untangle and repeal them, freeing consumers and businesses from the grip of government overreach. One glaring exception has been the Food and Drug Administration." 

President Trump's Executive Order 137771 not only directed agencies to eliminate two prior regulations for the creation of any new one, but it directed the Office of Management and Budget to create caps on and estimates for the cost of new rules imposed by agencies, like the FDA. For that reason, we suggest to the president:

"Consistent with your Executive Orders, an economic cost benefit analysis must be conducted that examines pending FDA guidance and potential new regulations with regards to this innovative industry."

Without an analysis on the economic impact of pressuring businesses to remove products from the retail distrubtion chain or failing to provide clarity on the government approval pathway for new products, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb's actions will be inconsistent with the president's Executive Order, pro-jobs, and economic growth agenda. 

The growing body of scientific evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than traditional combustible cigarettes. Even further, a new study by the New England Journal of Medicine which found that e-cigarettes are twice as effective at getting smokers to quit as government-approved smoking cessation products like the nicotine patch. Given the high cost of cigarette use on public health expenditures across the United States, these products present adults aged 18 and over with real and increasingly effective choices that will save taxpayers billions of dollars and potentially save millions of lives. 

All of this comes at a cost of no longer being a leader on public health and missing out on investments in our economy. 

"Private sector initiative and sound public policy should not be held hostage by prohibitionist impulses. The FDA’s current efforts and attitude towards the e-cigarette industry make America a less appealing place to invest and do business. Countries around the world, including many throughout Europe have embraced this industry, encouraging doctors and medical professionals to recommend it to patients who smoke. Simply put, we are not a public health leader on the issue of utilizing the free market and innovation for tobacco harm reduction."

This broad coalition of limited government, free market, conservative, and consumer choice organizations is asking the president to pump the brakes on the FDA's new and pending regulatory efforts against an industry that is helping American smokers quit. 

A PDF of the letter and its signers can be found here. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Elizabeth Warren to Propose New "Wealth Tax" on American Taxpayers

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Posted by Paul Blair on Thursday, January 24th, 2019, 2:54 PM PERMALINK

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is set to announce plans for a new tax on Americans making more than $50 million, according to an economist advising her on the plan. Warren, a Democrat 2020 presidential contender, has made income inequality a key tenant of her time in office and will push this massive new tax in the coming weeks.

Progressive economic advisors to Warren Eammanual Saez and Gabriele Zucman are suggesting a 2 percent tax on Americans with assets above $50 million and a higher tax of 3 percent on those with more than $1 billion. According to their own analysis, this tax would raise taxes on American by $2.75 trillion over ten years from 75,000 families. This is extremely ambitious and assumes that high-earners do not relocate their homes and wealth elsewhere.

The proposal comes on the heels of Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to impose a 70 percent top tax rate on people making more than $10 million per year, a tax that the nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimates will either generate $189 billion or lose $64 billion over ten years, depending on whether it is imposed on ordinary income or capital gains as well.

The Warren wealth tax proposals would also increase funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), mandate audits for certain high earners, and impose a one-time tax on Americans who renounce their citizenship.

These ambitious and aggressive proposals have been tried and failed miserably internationally, with France providing a good example of the consequences. A wealth tax imposed on assets over 1.3 million euros led to an exodus of taxpayers from the country. In 2016 alone, 12,000 millionaires left France, the highest outflow in the world. The year prior, in 2015, 10,000 millionaires left France for other countries, according to a report by New World Wealth. The runner up for most millionaires leaving a country in 2016 was China, with 3,000 departures.

Prime Minister Philippe remarked, “When someone leaves the country because of the wealth tax… collectively all French lose.” The argument holds true in America, where a mass exodus of taxpayers would leave no one to pay for the growing demands of higher government spending.

The top one percent in America pay 39.4 percent of federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office. If these people flee, they take with them the tax revenue they currently pay as well.

This proposal would harm economic growth, incentivize the investment of money overseas, and generate no where close to the amount of money Warren’s economic team estimates.

Photo Credit: Edward Kimmel

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Representative Brian White Stands Up for Electricity Consumers in South Carolina

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Posted by Paul Blair on Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, 9:51 AM PERMALINK

During this year’s state legislative session, South Carolina lawmakers were confronted with a number of important and contentious issues. Between solar subsidies and looming questions about how to handle a failed state-sponsored nuclear project, utility regulations were among the most controversial topics touched by legislative action. Throughout these debates, Representative Brian White (R-Anderson) has been a voice of reason and worked to protect taxpayers from subsidies and big government energy mandates that drive up costs of electricity in the Palmetto State.

A series of bills this year sought to raise or completely eliminate the cap on the number of homes that can have rooftop solar for electricity generation. The importance of this debate revolves around the complex set of government benefits that are given to rooftop solar, ranging from a federal 30 percent tax credit and in some states, a payment scheme that forces traditional electricity consumers to subsidize solar consumers’ use of the energy grid.

One bill in particular was problematic, House Bill 4421. The misnamed “SC Electric Consumer Bill of Rights” abolished the 2 percent net metering cap, exempt small solar projects from property taxes, prevented utility companies from recovering costs associated with grid use from rooftop solar free riders, and forced utility companies to pay rooftop solar consumers more money for their excess energy generation than it costs them to generate the energy themselves.

Americans for Tax Reform expressed strong opposition to this legislation, noting that it took a big step backwards for a favored electricity source by forcing most of the market to subsidize solar use.  

Because this bill involved a property tax provision, passage required a two-thirds vote.  On April 10, the bill failed when it did not get the necessary supermajority for passage. This was achieved due in part to the leadership of Rep. Brian White, who has questioned the claim that solar subsidies are somehow “conservative” and explained publicly that the complex scheme pushed by the environmental Left in South Carolina is paid for by somebody else.  

Too often, fiscal sanity is absent in state debates about solar power and the complicated entanglement of government incentives, subsidies, and impact on consumers. The cost-shifting inherent in many net metering systems often favors wealthy homeowners to the detriment of low and middle-income taxpayers. In the midst of the often contentious solar and utility debates this year, ATR applauds Representative Brian White’s leadership.

Photo Credit: Facebook: Rep. Brian White

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South Carolina Legislature Considers Step Backwards in Effort to Reform Solar Subsidy Scheme

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Posted by Paul Blair on Wednesday, March 21st, 2018, 1:17 PM PERMALINK

In 2014, the South Carolina legislature unanimously passed Act 236, a bill that phased out some of the market-distorting solar subsidies in the state. On top of very generous federal tax credits (30 percent, dollar-for-dollar reduction in income tax liability) available to rooftop solar consumers, many states require utility companies to buy the excess power generated by solar panels at an artificially high cost through a process called net-metering. In many cases, solar is simply a subsidy-based business model. Act 236 partially addressed this issue and was signed into law without a single no vote. A bill filed this year, however, would take a significant step backwards for that reform and should be rejected by the legislature.

The retail electricity rate charged by utilities includes their costs of maintaining and building the grid through investments in poles, wires, meters, and other infrastructure that make the electric grid reliable. When private rooftop solar consumers are credited at the full retail rate of electricity, however, these consumers avoid paying for their cost of grid maintenance and use.  At a retail rate of payment, solar consumers are paid as if they’ve either invested in the grid or aren’t using it, which simply isn’t the case. The result of a retail rate payment scheme is an inevitable cost shift to those consumers without private rooftop solar.

House Bill 4421 would lift the cap on net metering and mandate a retail rate of compensation. In a letter sent to lawmakers this week, ATR President Grover Norquist explained: 

“HB 4421 reverts to an unfortunate time where the cost shifting inherent with the net metering payment scheme was the status quo. This bill penalizes retail electric suppliers, by preventing cost recovery through the ratemaking process, all in an effort to further subsidize solar in South Carolina.

The electricity market is complicated. What’s simple, however, is the importance of protecting electricity consumers from the cost shifting which occurs when some favored consumers who use rooftop solar for electricity generation are paid a high rate for their electricity generation which does not factor in their use of the grid or the maintenance costs that go into ensuring their use of the grid is possible.

ATR opposes HB 4421 because it takes a big step backwards for a favored electricity source and forces most of the rest of the market to subsidize solar use.”

The full letter can be read here. 

Photo Credit: Flickr

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Coalition Urges Congress to Rein in FDA Overreach as Part of FY18 Spending Bill

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Posted by Paul Blair on Monday, March 5th, 2018, 11:22 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform and a coalition of center-right public policy organizations and think tanks sent a letter to Congressional leadership and the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging them to provide regulatory relief to thousands of small businesses that sell and millions of adult consumers that use vapor products in the United States. The Obama-era "Deeming Rule" stands to cripple a growing industry unless Congress acts to make a small staturoy change to the Tobacco Control Act for new products subject to the oversight given to the Food and Drug Administration by Congress in 2009. Inaction would not only strike a blow to innovation, but to public health as well. 

Below is a letter, which can also be read here

We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to provide regulatory relief from the Food and Drug Administration’s May 2016 “Deeming Rule” as part of the final FY18 omnibus appropriations package. Without a modernization of a provision of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the Deeming Rule will kill tens of thousands of jobs in an industry that is helping many American adult smokers transition to lower risk alternatives to combustible to cigarettes.

Language and legislation sponsored by Congressmen Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) modernizes the “predicate date” for newly deemed tobacco products, providing regulatory certainty for small businesses against an onerous and retroactive pre-approval process imposed by the 2016 Rule. The Cole-Bishop Amendment to the current FY18 Agriculture Bill would provide additional substantive protections for adult consumers without preventing the FDA from imposing more appropriate regulations for the product category in the future.

Congressional action is necessary to prevent the loss of tens of thousands of jobs created in recent years. Most of these jobs are the result of domestic manufacturing and new retailers that are providing smokers with potentially effective smoking cessation and/or harm reduction choices that were not available ten years ago.

The Deeming Rule requires new products that did not exist on or before February 15, 2007 – the predicate date – to undergo a burdensome pre-market review process that achieves little in the way of protecting public health at a very high cost. The FDA’s own estimates found that the cost of completing and submitting the required Pre- Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) would exceed $300,000 per product and take at least 500 hours of time per application. At present, the deadline for the submission of PMTAs for each product manufactured in the United States is August 8, 2022.

When FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb extended the deadlines for the submission of PMTAs last year, he explained that it was done in part “to allow the FDA to encourage innovation that has the potential to make a notable public health difference—and to inform future policies and efforts that will protect kids and help smokers quit cigarettes.” Gottlieb has also argued that “there should be reduced harm products available to consumers to transition them off of combustible cigarettes,” consistent with the international consensus that vapor products are significantly less harmful than cigarettes. Without a statutory change to TCA by Congress, however, countless smoking cessation products currently on the market will be illegal in 2022. The ball is in Congress’s court and further inaction only stands to harm public health.

The onerous PMTA process required of every single vapor product on the market today was one that every single manufacturer of cigarettes in the U.S. avoided when the TCA was signed into law. Even if businesses could afford this investment, however, the process is designed to end in failure. Many small businesses produce hundreds of these products and would be forced to close their doors as a result of this retroactive federal rule.

The Cole-Bishop Amendment would not weaken the TCA or the ability of the FDA to impose additional product standards or regulations on new products in the future. In fact, the FDA is already moving forward on additional rulemaking for newly deemed products and this amendment would make the agency’s new regulatory objectives, which include preventing youth initiation, attainable. That is precisely why the efforts are bipartisan, because there is recognition that while regulations that protect consumers are important, the Rule imposed burdens that neither protect consumers, nor acknowledge that the consequence will be the new industry’s demise.

The millions of adult consumers who currently rely on these products as less harmful alternatives to smoking need your help today. The inclusion of the Cole-Bishop Amendment, as passed by the House Appropriations Committee, will provide significant regulatory certainty to tens of thousands of small businesses in the United States. We encourage Congress to adopt the language into the final FY18 omnibus budget.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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