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Nation’s Largest Tobacco Company Fighting New FDA Vape Rules

REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put tough new vaping regulations into effect in August, and now the e-cigarette industry is fighting back.

The Altria Group, the country’s largest tobacco company, which is also the parent company of Philip Morris, among others, has teamed with 75 lobbyists in an effort to stop the FDA from retroactively examining or blocking new products from market, The New York Times reported Friday.

The team is arguing that the tough new regulations could force many e-cigarette companies out of business, which could have a deleterious effect on public health as many people have used technology to successfully stop smoking.

“The F.D.A. has blatantly ignored evidence that our products improve people’s lives,” chief executive of Johnson Creek Enterprises, Christian Berkey, told The New York Times.

Despite the FDA acknowledging that vaping is better than smoking, the administration worries that some ingredients in the juice are still harmful in their own right and that vaping can lead to more teenage smokers, which does have some merit.

“In the absence of science-based regulation of all tobacco products, the marketplace has been the wild wild West,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told The New York Times. “[T]hat is how we wound up with a 900 percent increase in high schoolers using e-cigarettes.”

Altria Group introduced a proposal to halt the FDA from implementing the new regulations last year, ahead of the FDA’s final decision, to Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who introduced the bill to the House, and picked up 71 co-sponsors, but it is still pending.

Former Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, on a separate front, has also been lobbying on behalf of the cigar industry, which also falls under the scope of the FDA regulations.

Likewise, the Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association has their own lobbying effort aimed at stopping the onerous new FDA regulations.

The Altria Group could not be reached for comment, as the offices are closed ahead of Labor Day.

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