A decade after the introduction of the e-cigarette, ANR reflects on the marketing, use, and health impacts of these nicotine products. Today we share Part 2 of this series, which focuses on the current regulatory landscape of e-cigarettes in the U.S. Our final piece will focus on Policy Guidance to protect public health. Part 1 is available here.

Public health playing catch-up to the industry

E-cigarettes hit the market just as the FDA was gaining regulatory steam. In 2009, Congress made the landmark decision to grant the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products for the first time. It seems almost unbelievable that it’s only been in the last decade that the nation’s top agency for ensuring product safety has had the power to oversee the only known consumer products that will kill the user if used as directed. That’s no mistake. The delay in granting FDA authority to regulate tobacco, the ongoing delays in the FDA’s ability to issue regulations, and now the Trump administration’s effort to remove FDA authority to regulate tobacco products is all due to decades of intensive and direct pressure by the tobacco industry to thwart meaningful regulations and continue to addict new customers. The proposed decision to remove FDA authority seems to be in response to lobbying by the tobacco and e-cigarette industries following the tremendous level of activity and momentum by communities across the country to regulate the sales of flavored tobacco products, including vaping products and menthol cigarettes. We know that undermining FDA authority and preventing strong public health laws are tried and true tactics implemented by Big Tobacco and its allies like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

At the end of the day, these industries are focused on profits over health, and they proactively seek ways to avoid regulation by creating ineffective prevention and tobacco sales programs or suggesting weak self-regulatory measures. When these attempts fail, their lobbyists attempt to manipulate legislators into exempting the industry from public health regulations and/or preempting local governments from adopting meaningful local smokefree laws, excise tax increases, or preventing the sale of tobacco products to youth, particularly menthol or other flavored products. We cannot trust adjudicated racketeers to effectively regulate themselves given their explicit targeting of youth to create more users and increase industry profits from sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

On March 30, 2020, the FDA filed a motion with the United States District Court for the District of Maryland requesting a 120-day extension for e-cigarette companies to submit their applications for approval of e-cigarettes, pushing the May 12, 2020, deadline to September 9, 2020. The Agency states that it “is seeking this extension due to the challenges posed during these extraordinary circumstances.” Read “FDA again prioritizes protecting vaping industry over public health.”

Part 3: Policy Guidance will be published next Friday, April 10, 2020.

Previous Blog Posts on e-cigarettes:

For more information on electronic cigarettes, visit: https://no-smoke.org/smokefree-threats/electronic-cigarettes/