In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new deeming regulations that essentially reclassified vaping devices as tobacco products. This action allowed the FDA to regulate vapes the same as they do conventional tobacco cigarettes.
To the average American, this seemed to make sense. After all, the white, plume of vapor being produced from a JoyeTech vape mod looks exactly like the white cloud of smoke produced from a Marlboro tobacco cigarette. By installing the same government regulations across both industries, the FDA can implement better quality control standards which —in theory—should make vaping devices safer for the American population to use—right?
Not so fast. Almost immediately upon the FDA’s announcement of the new deeming regulations, the American vaping industry began to call foul. Most vapor companies agree that government regulations are welcome, but the regulations should be far less restrictive than those applied to Big Tobacco. Why? Because the e-liquids used in vaping are 100 percent tobacco-free.
A slow, painful, and expense death for vaping?
Furthermore, Big Tobacco companies have had centuries to build up their businesses and financial coffers. This point is important because the FDA deeming regulations also now required vapor companies to apply for FDA approval of each and every product sold on the market by following the identical FDA approval processes that Big Tobacco has been adhering to for decades.
To gain FDA approval, both e-cig and Big Tobacco companies must submit an overly complex Pre-Market Tobacco Application or PMTA. But simply filling out the application is only part of the arduous process. The FDA also requires applicants to attach scientific research reports proving that the product being submitted for FDA approval is safe for public use.
Related Article: FDA deeming regulations update: PMTA approval process finalized
These reports can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars— EACH. in a 2014 proposal, the FDA estimated that a single PMTA would cost the applicant about $335,000. However, an independent research firm later told the Wall Street Journal that the process would likely run somewhere between $2-10 million.
Big Tobacco can afford to pay these hefty fees, but small business owners who make up the majority percentage of the American vaping industry cannot. So, again, vapor companies were more than a little miffed at the FDA deeming regulations.
Consequently, the FDA kept extending the deadline to submit these PMTAs. The submission deadline was moved backwards and forwards until the FDA was forced by the courts to establish a permanent deadline of September 9, 2020.
Was Big Tobacco conspiring to kill vaping with the FDA?
In those preceding four years between the first announcement of the new FDA deeming regulations in May 2016 and the newly finalized PMTA deadline, FDA officials were allowing vape shops, businesses, and advocacy groups to ask questions and submit comments about how the rollout of the additional regulations should take place. Many conspiracy theorists believe that this is when things got a little sketchy.
Many believe that Big Tobacco companies RJ Reynolds, Altria, and Lorillard submitted comments to the FDA suggesting that the government ban open-system vaping devices—the ones that most avid vapers really love. By banning open-system vapes, that would leave the door wide open for disposable e-cigs like VUSE (RJ Reynolds), MarkTen (Altria), and Blu (Lorillard) to take hold in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, the smaller, Mom and Pop vape shops would be eviscerated almost overnight by both the enormity of the PMTA fees and the federal government’s unique capacity to essentially kill an entire industry through over-regulation. In doing so, Big Tobacco would be allowed to corner a brand-new market—disposable e-cigs. All that Big Tobacco would have to do is to continue paying the corrupt politicians in Washington, DC through massive campaign contributions on a nearly yearly basis.
Now that Congress has passed a new law that prevents the United States Post Office and private delivery companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL from delivering vaping products to private residences, the final trap has been set. The American vaping industry is on its last legs.
Everybody else wins though…except, of course, for the millions of smokers trying to quit. But the politicians and Big Tobacco companies? They’re laughing all the way to the bank.
Related Article: Please help fight the vape mail ban. Here’s how.
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