Lawmakers took steps Wednesday to protect electronic cigarettes from costly Food and Drug Administration regulations that threaten to wipe out the vaping industry.
The Republican-controlled Appropriations Committee voted to exempt vapor products from a tobacco rule that would require businesses to retroactively submit each individual product to the FDA for approval before it can be sold. Advocates for the vaping industry say that if this rule is applied to e-cigarettes already on the market, it will wipe out the inventory of vape shops by forcing them to go through an unaffordable application process, reports ABC News.
“E-vapor products are 95 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes,” Georgia Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop said Wednesday, according to ABC News. “I want to help people in our country, America, to cycle off of cigarettes.”
Other Democratic lawmakers on the panel opposed the exemption, saying the devices pose health risks and serve to perpetuate the habit of smoking. New York Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey said Wednesday that the devices are “geared toward getting children hooked on nicotine with flavors.”
A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 revealed that, after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015, teens are now giving up the habit. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.
Research shows that offering a wide variety of flavors is essential to helping adult smokers transition to vaping. Vaping advocates say the flavors help smokers trying to quit “disconnect from the taste of tobacco.”
A study from VaporFi, a popular e-cigarette retailer, found that the number of vape shops in the U.S. jumped from 3,500 to 10,591 between 2014 and 2016, but notes the current plans of the FDA put those numbers in jeopardy.
“If the proposed FDA regulations force vape shops to close, it’s not only going to affect small business owners from coast to coast, but tens of thousands of people who are pretty passionate about vaping,” Cindy Glover, spokesman for VaporFi, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It would affect a lot of people in all parts of the country. These are voices from cities and communities everywhere. Urban and rural, male and female.”
If the exemption for e-cigarettes does not ultimately pass, vendors and manufactures will have until Aug. 8, 2018 to submit applications for their products. Many are anticipating closure under the FDA rule, due to the application costs, which range from $100,000 to $400,000 dollars each.
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