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In a paper titled, Regulatory Obstacles to Harm-Reduction: The Case of Smoking, Jonathan H. Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, calls e-cigarettes “the most promising smoking alternative to enter the market to date.”

In line with past studies, the professor points out that while there are a number of other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as gums and patches, these widely accepted options have not really had much of an impact on decreasing smoking rates.

E-cigs are the most effective smoking cessation tools

Research keeps indicating that the hand to mouth motion involved in vaping makes it a lot easier for smokers to transition from smoking to vaping, since it mimics the action of smoking. And whilst e-cigarettes contain the nicotine that smokers crave, they only contain a fraction of the harmful chemicals that cigarettes contain.

Adler pointed out that despite this, in the past the FDA has expressed concern about the fact that some consumers rightly believe that e-cigarettes are relatively safe. To this effect, the agency has implemented its infamous deeming rule which regulates the safer alternatives as tobacco products, despite the fact that they contain no tobacco.

“The claim here is not that e-cigarettes are harmless or risk-free, merely that e-cigarettes are less dangerous substitutes for a far more dangerous product, and that continued innovation and development of e-cigarette and vaping products could produce substantial benefits for public health.” Jonathan H. Adler, Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Law“

Adler pointed out that the FDA’s concern is unfounded, as his research indicated that actually, most adults mistakenly think that e-cigarettes are just as harmful, if not more, than tobacco cigarettes. Adler worries that by regulating information-sharing for e-cigarettes in the same was as the one for the tobacco industry, these misconceptions will only get worse.

Tobacco regulations that put Big Tobacco at an advantage

“As with prior limitations on advertising and promotion, the deeming rule is likely to advantage larger incumbent firms at the expense of smaller e-cigarette producers. In practical terms, these requirements are most likely to advantage the major tobacco companies, which have also entered the e-cigarette market,” explained the professor.

“The same market dynamics that enable these firms to dominate the cigarette market will give them a substantial competitive advantage in the e-cigarette market, particularly as smaller retailers, such as vape shops, are squeezed by the new rules.”

As many public health experts have incessantly pointed out, the FDA’s deeming rule will only benefit the Big Tobacco Companies and lead to the demise of the well intentioned smaller vaping businesses.

“The same market dynamics that enable these firms to dominate the cigarette market will give them a substantial competitive advantage in the e-cigarette market, particularly as smaller retailers, such as vape shops, are squeezed by the new rules. Many of the marketing methods that new entrants might use to gain market share are effectively precluded by the marketing regulations,” he added.

The FDA’s deeming rule is a threat to public health

Adler concluded his paper by pointing out that the FDA deeming rule is counterproductive.  “The regulation of e-cigarettes as tobacco products, however well intentioned, threatens to sacrifice harm reduction and significant opportunities to reduce the tragic health costs of smoking.”

“The regulation of e-cigarettes as tobacco products, however well intentioned, threatens to sacrifice harm reduction and significant opportunities to reduce the tragic health costs of smoking.”

“The claim here is not that e-cigarettes are harmless or risk-free, merely that e-cigarettes are less dangerous substitutes for a far more dangerous product, and that continued innovation and development of e-cigarette and vaping products could produce substantial benefits for public health,” said the professor.

Read Further: The Regulatory Review

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