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Wasserman Schultz Slammed For Opposition To E-Cigarettes

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is under fire for her criticism of the e-cigarette industry as a machine that will addict future generations to nicotine.

“It’s irrational fear mongering comments which actually play into some tobacco companies’ hands, as one could argue tobacco companies might benefit from the absence of alternative less harmful nicotine products,” Jeffrey Stamler, co-founder and CEO at Nicopure Labs told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Speaking Tuesday in opposition to an amendment that could save the bulk of e-cigarettes business from prohibition, Wasserman Schultz levied several criticisms against vapor products.

“It would seem to me that the only reason this industry exists, the only reason the e-cigarette industry exists, is that there are some that would like to hear and believe — although, we don’t have data to attach to that — they have been able to eliminate their addiction to cigarettes through this product,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“But the reality of this industry, the purpose of the development of this product, is to keep people addicted to nicotine and then to raise to bring up another generation of children who will be addicted to nicotine and will become addicted to nicotine in a much more benign way because of how these products are marketed.”

The Cole-Bishop amendment Wasserman Schultz opposed would alter the date when all e-cigarette products would be required to go through the costly Pre-Market Application Process (PMTA). The Food and Drug Administration’s original rule would mean all vapor products released after February 2007 would have to pass a PMTA. (RELATED:Vapers Win Big: House Committee Passes Amendment To Save E-Cigarettes)

Since almost all vapor products came on the market after Feb 2007 the rule would crush around 99 percent of the market, according to the agency’s own assessment. This is because almost no businesses with the exception of major tobacco companies will be able to bear the cost of the PMTA.

Contrary to Schultz’s remarks in committee there is a wealth of evidence suggesting e-cigarettes do in fact help many smokers quit their addiction to tobacco cigarettes. The suggestion that e-cigarette businesses are only in existence to keep people addicted to nicotine and to hook a new generation of children drew incredulity and outrage from policy experts and industry insiders. (RELATED: Study Finds E-Cigarettes Raise Chances Of Quitting, ‘Can Save Lives’)

“The industry exists because smokers want to quit, or they want a healthier option and they were dissatisfied with the existing cessation products,” said Michelle Minton, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a statement to TheDCNF.

Minton balked at the idea that opposing the Cole-Brown amendment would protect consumers and minors from tobacco: “Far from protecting smokers from ‘big tobacco,’ creating an overly burdensome pre-approval process and instituting a grandfather date—any date—that freezes innovation in time, will simply guarantee that big tobacco companies are the only companies with e-cigarettes on the market.”

Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, was furious that Schultz failed to consider the millions of ordinary Americans who’ve managed to quit tobacco with the help of e-cigarettes.

“As the head of the DNC, the congresswoman is used to wining and dining big money donors,” he told TheDCNF. “If she actually talked to her constituents instead of just lobbyists, she would find out that many adult ex-smokers in her district credit vaping with their ability to quit.”

State Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform and prominent campaigner for vapers rights Paul Blair was shocked by what he saw as Schultz’s lack of knowledge and scientific insight on the risks associated with e-cigarettes.

“It’s a shame that out-of-touch politicians like Debbie Wasserman Schultz don’t have the capacity to engage in a 21st-century debate about the most significant advancement in public health in decades,” he said. “She might learn something that wasn’t in her morning talking points from the anti-science quit-or-die crowd whose holier than thou attitude doesn’t align with reality and stands to kill jobs and harm public health.”

Those working in the industry itself were horrified that they were being tarred with the same brush as big tobacco, and sought to educate Schultz on exactly how the industry came about and operates today.

“To be clear, the vapor industry was not created by tobacco companies, but was in fact created by entrepreneurs who for the most part were motivated by the fact that vapor products offer a pathway for people to reduce their nicotine consumption, while also reducing the amount of toxic chemicals that traditional tobacco smokers are putting into their bodies,” Stamler, the Nicopure Labs CEO, told TheDCNF.

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