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FDA delays e cigarettes regulations, it it deliberate?
Despite the fact that e cigarettes continue to grow in popularity, are a direct threat to tobacco cigarettes and in the eyes of many offer significant health benefits over their tobacco cigarette counterparts, why is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) taking so long to publish its report into electronic cigarettes? The administration has been looking at electronic cigarettes for in excess of two years now and we appear to be no further forward with regards to a structured regulatory framework. Is this a deliberate attempt to fudge electronic cigarette regulations by the FDA or are there problems behind the scenes?
Whatever the reason for the delay in publishing the FDA report into e cigarettes there is no doubt that it is causing something of an “information vacuum”. Various politicians and state authorities are now taking it upon themselves to attack the electronic cigarette industry which has been patiently waiting for the now infamous report to be released.
While the vast majority of states across the USA will have a major problem pushing through e cigarette bans, as many politicians seemingly support, there have been restrictions introduced in some states. Indeed one of the last actions of Mayor Bloomberg was to introduce e cigarette restrictions by the back door, grouping them together with their tobacco cigarette counterparts despite the fact there is a world of difference.
States in the US look to the federal government and in many cases the FDA for direction in their local regulations. As this guidance has been less than forthcoming so far, many have been forced to take it upon themselves to take control of the situation. There are a number of reasons why some states are more proactive than others with money, power and behind closed door deals cited by many. At this rate, by the time the FDA guidance is released, many states will already have in place their own local rules and regulations regarding the use of e cigarettes!
Has the FDA failed e cigarettes users?
It is no secret that the FDA tried unsuccessfully to ban electronic cigarettes outright a few years ago with defeat coming via the highest court in the land. Despite the fact that many health experts around the world, not to mention electronic cigarette users, are very supportive of the industry it seems that politicians and regulators have their own agendas. There is nothing wrong with the federal government and the FDA taking a cautious approach to e cigarettes, with many important medical trials still ongoing, but the silence is now deafening and the hoped-for structured regulatory system is taking on a mind of its own in many states.
There was speculation towards the end of last year that the FDA had put forward a number of proposals to regulate electronic cigarettes but so far this has not been confirmed. Whether or not the FDA will take the “get out of jail” option by suggesting states have already introduced their own “tobacco cigarette like bans” on electronic cigarettes and following suit remains to be seen. Each day that goes by leaves more and more electronic cigarette users in limbo, does not reflect well on the FDA and will eventually lead to concerns about short to medium-term investment in the industry. There needs to be some clarification now, there needs to be an indication of the future regulatory framework, at which point companies can plan ahead for what will be an enormous industry in years to come.
The position and the actions of the FDA (or should we say lack of action) have prompted many people to suggest the administration is looking to take the easy way out. States up-and-down the US are introducing their own local electronic cigarette rules and regulations, with little or no guidance from the FDA or the federal government. Despite the fact that there are now millions of electronic cigarette users in the US, and many more around the world, the regulatory situation is no nearer clarification than it was two years ago!
What will it take for the FDA to take action? What is the real intent of the FDA with regards to e cigarettes? When will we find out?
Mark Benson is a contributing author for Spinfuel eMagazine. His continuing columns will bring a level headed approach to the dynamics involved in realizing a positive future for the e-cigarette industry. For more information on electronic cigarettes and the various products available please visit the OKCigs website