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Grover Norquist Urges Congress To Change FDA Rule That Could Wipeout E-Cigarette Industry

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation

One of the most powerful advocacy groups in the country is urging Congress to support changes to regulations that, if enacted, will all but wipe out the e-cigarette industry in America.

In a letter to members of Congress, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist appeals to lawmakers to change the date when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will compel all e-cigarette and premium cigar products that came out after Feb. 15, 2007 to undergo the costly Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process.

The vast majority of e-cigarette and vaping products on the market today were released after February 2007. The PMTA process for each individual product could cost millions of dollars and vaping shops typically contain dozens if not hundreds of such products, which will amount to an impossible financial burden for most businesses.

If the regulations go into effect as is, as much as 99 percent of small businesses in the e-cigarette industry could be forced to close, according to president of the American Vaping Association Gregory Conley.

Norquist argues in the letter that changing the date, outlined in the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, won’t alter the FDA’s ability to regulate e-cigarettes but grandfathering in existing products will “save the agency at least two year’s worth of paperwork and allow them to focus on encouraging good manufacturing practices.”

Furthermore, many in the e-cigarette industry fear that if the FDA doesn’t change course before it’s too late the regulations could have the unintended consequence of helping the tobacco industry. CEO of e-cigarette company V2 Jan Verleur wrote in August that only “deep-pocketed tobacco companies” can afford to comply with the FDA’s rules.

This means America’s nine million vapers will be left without the dynamic and innovative market that has helped many of them quit smoking.

“I urge Congress to amend the Tobacco Control Act predicate date for the tobacco-derived products in the electronic cigarette and vapor product category in an effort to protect public health and protect American jobs,” says Norquist.

“Such a change in the predicate date would not interfere with the short-term goals of responsibly regulating the products; it would simply help avoid the looming economic and public health disaster associated with status quo prohibition.”

The FDA is not the only agency taking aim at vapers. The Department of Housing and Urban Development opened a 60-day consultation on whether to include vaping in its blanket ban on smoking in public housing. The new rule will affect more than 700,000 units “including over 500,000 units inhabited by elderly households or households with a non-elderly person with disabilities.”

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