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Defeat for Nicopure in Deeming Rules case

The FDA has decided that anything that can be used to consume “tobacco products” must be one as well.

There was bad news for US vapers last Friday as a federal judge ruled against Nicopure Labs in the first big court challenge to the FDA’s notorious Deeming Regulations. Florida-based Nicopure, a large manufacturer of premium e-liquid, had challenged the regulations on several grounds. One of the key ones was that the FDA does not have the authority to regulate vaping hardware as tobacco products when they don’t contain any tobacco.

On the face of it this is an obviously correct argument; even using the USA’s eccentric definition of a tobacco product, which pulls in anything containing nicotine, items like mods, coils, tanks and batteries are clearly not tobacco products. However, the FDA has decided that anything that can be used to consume “tobacco products” must be one as well, and it’s using this convoluted logic that they’re busily decimating the entire US vapour products industry. Nicopure argued that doing so was outside the agency’s authority.

Unfortunately, district court judge Amy Berman Jackson appears to share the FDA’s view of reality. Seemingly unaware that nicotine-free liquids exist, she asked the court if there was anything else in the world you can do with vape gear other than vape with it. It seems Judge Jackson missed the key point about the hardware not containing nicotine. Now Nicopure is deciding whether to appeal the ruling.

Philippines impose draconian new anti-vape laws

As bad as things look for American vapers, they’re still a lot better off than their compatriots in the Philippines. A new law passed by president Rodrigo Duterte, the mastermind behind the ongoing campaign of mass murder against drug users, criminalises anyone who smokes or vapes in a public place – and sets harsh punishments for disobedience.

The law, which came into force last Sunday, covers every public space in the country of 101 million people. Not only buses, bars and restaurants, but also parks and pavements are now no-smoking areas. The only exceptions will be designated smoking areas, which must be no more than ten square metres in size and located at least ten metres from any building entrance. The only other places where Filipinos can now legally smoke is in their own car or home.

Violations of the new law carry a maximum penalty of four months in jail or a fine of 5,000 pesos (about £75). However, given the climate of violence unleashed by Duterte’s brutal rule, it’s unclear how safe vaping in public will be from now on.

And so does another Indian state

On Monday Jammu and Kashmir became the fifth Indian state to impose a total ban on e-cigarettes. In a move that doesn’t seem to have been debated or voted on in any way, Dr Salim ur Rehman of Directorate of Health Services Kashmir announced a raft of restrictions aimed at making it almost impossible for residents of the state to obtain vapour products.

It’s now illegal not just to sell e-cigs in Jammu and Kashmir, including online sales. The state government has also banned their manufacture, import, trade, distribution or advertising. It’s not clear if the import ban applies to private citizens or just to businesses, but either way it’s bad news for the state’s vapers.

Like many of India’s more rural states Jammu and Kashmir, which is also plagued with terrorism issues, has a high smoking rate – and some of the most popular tobacco products are dangerous, hand-rolled local cigarettes called bidis. Despite this serious public health issue, the state health minister describes the e-cig ban as a “landmark moment” for tobacco control.

Maine scraps Tobacco 21 law – for now

Moves to make Maine the fourth state to raise its tobacco and vapour product purchase age to 21 hit a roadblock on Tuesday, when Governor Paul LePage used his authority to veto the bill. Maine’s T21 law had been voted through the state legislature and officially enacted last week, but LePage, blasting it as “social engineering”, told a local radio station that he had already struck it down.

Maine’s young adult vapers aren’t quite out of the woods yet; the legislature is likely to try to override LePage’s veto, most likely in early August. Unfortunately there’s a lot of bipartisan support for the regressive measure, so it’s likely the override vote will pass, but this is the first real pushback against the creeping tide of T21 laws.