A very lively debate about the E-Cigarette rages across America today. Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated its intent towards the regulation of electronic cigarettes in May of 2016, opposition has raised its head at almost every corner. The FDA’s reasoning behind the move is that electronic cigarettes are considered harmful, and therefore require controlling.
In Europe, a very similar situation is unfolding. In fact, the latest set of rules, created by the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), are coming into full effect on 20th May. Just as it is in America, these regulations have been designed with the intention of protecting people.
Of course, there are differences between the TPD and the FDA’s approach. But it’s important to remember that when the TPD was first being discussed, some suggested it would ruin vaping across Europe, yet these worries appear to be wide of the mark right now.
E-Cigarette Regulation Isn’t A Dirty Word
Unfortunately, the one major difference between these examples is that in the US, electronic cigarettes are being regulated much in the same way as tobacco products. When you look past the name, though, the idea that cigarettes and e-cigarettes are one and the same couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are the products vastly different, but the markets in which they are produced and sold are, too.
As the founder of an online retailer of vaping products, I welcome regulations — if they aim to create a safer industry, with more transparency for consumers. However, if the FDA wants to treat e-cigarettes like they are exactly the same as tobacco products, we fear smaller businesses won’t cope. To put it into perspective, the global e-cigarette market is predicted to be worth $32 billion by 2021, while last year in America alone, the cigarette industry reported revenues of $93.4 billion, 80% of which goes to just two companies.
So it raises the question: why is the FDA asking electronic cigarette producers to undergo the same regulation costs as the big tobacco firms? In the UK, it costs less than $200 to put a new vaping product through testing. In contrast, the FDA’s plans will make it cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Clearly, this is not a sustainable approach.
Hope for American E-Cigarette Businesses
Fortunately, there is some hope for the vaping industry. The European model clearly shows how regulations can hold a sustainable and realistic approach to controlling electronic cigarette products. The TPD exemplifies how, with a bit more consideration, it is possible to create working legislation, rather than impossible expectations and disappointment.
For the small businesses within the vaping industry, there are two legislations that hold promise. The Cole-Bishop bill, and the latest bill from vaping advocate Rep. Duncan Hunter, the ‘Cigarette Smoking Reduction and Electronic Vapor Alternatives Act of 2017’. Don’t be disheartened by the recent omission of the Cole-Bishop bill from the Federal Budget. In fact, it has a chance to negotiate again in October, when the next budget comes around.
While both of these bills support the vaping industry on a legislative platform, more and more scientific evidence is bringing to light the facts about the effects of electronic cigarettes. The California Department of Public Health released the most recent study of electronic cigarette vapor, with air samples proving ‘secondhand’ vaping to be “harmless”.
Just like in Europe, with the continued efforts of e-cigarette advocates, feasible regulation of this industry is achievable. Why wouldn’t vapers want safer, more reliable products? The FDA must realize that these alternatives to tobacco cigarettes cannot be classed in the same way. Hopefully it can take a leaf from the TPD’s book and not cripple this fledgling industry.
Author Bio: Pascal Culverhouse is the founder and CEO of Electric Tobacconist. He supports regulation and control within the vaping industry and would like to see greater cooperation between policy makers and industry specialists.
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