Deja vu in the new year, already. What a healthy beginning to 2020.
“We will protect the industry,” President Donald Trump said during remarks to reporters at a New Year’s Eve gala.
The Wall Street Journal alleged that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will move to ban most flavored vapor products across the U.S. market. This was confirmed.
The partial ban is now active and a reality. The FDA also remains adamant that this isn’t a “ban” because products can return to the market through the existing PMTA processes. Still, it’s a ban in one form or another.
While some in the industry would view this as an acceptable compromise to protect vape shops and open systems, removing pods replays the hysteria surrounding the potential removal of all flavored vapor products from the market during the fourth quarter of 2019.
According to Paul Blair, a lobbyist with the conservative-leaning Americans for Tax Reform, announced on Twitter that the White House Office of Management and Budget canceled a series of statutory meetings required for regulatory approval.
This typically means two things: regulators are abandoning the policy or the final contributions of the regulatory process are completed and the order is ready.
Premarket Tobacco Applications is the regulatory pathway the FDA requires for the release of new e-cigarette and deemed tobacco products for sale and product marketing.
May of 2020, is now the required submission deadline for vapor companies hoping to keep their products on the market. The deadline was changed due to litigation.
We need to keep some things in mind when reviewing these policy proposals. Recently, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report declaring that drug restrictions around the world are not based on science or evidence.
If you consider the findings of the report, the nature of the partial ban from the Trump administration, and the insights of international experts, there is likely to be a failure of implementation and intent.
My friend and colleague Claudio Teixeira, the founder and coordinator of the project Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Brasil, believes that vaping restrictions like a partial or total ban are based on only emotion.
“The war against vaping has the same hue as the war on other drugs, with the distinction that nicotine is still legal,” Teixeria said. He elaborated on the nature of vaping policies adopted in countries, states, and local communities that eliminate the access of products.
“Nicotine-phobia has more to do with a cultural rather than a scientific perception, more irrational then emotional than rational,” he said, adding that policies restricting psychoactive substances are never scientific.
Alex Wodak, president Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, agrees.
“The triumph of a prohibition ideology over science and human rights has brought few if any benefits and created much damage,” Wodak said. “Authorities have to make it easy for smokers to switch from high risk smoking to vaping, snus or Heated Tobacco Products. That requires basing policy on science, protecting human rights of smokers and vapers, and working closely with people who vape. Tobacco harm reduction is a once in a generation opportunity for public health but at present politics is getting in the way.”
Though these gentlemen are not Americans, their opinions are timeless and can apply to any form of drug prohibition.
Again, I know that this is a partial ban. However, prohibition is still prohibition.
Economists with the National Bureau of Economic Research released a report that a vaping tax would drive cigarette use among people interested in switching.
The findings, alone, offer a depiction that artificial cost increases This research emphasizes the impact of pod-based taxes, which will negatively impact access.
While this research does not accommodate for a temporary prohibition policy as we have here, the situations presented still offer negative scenarios for market health.
Overall, any policy restriction will harm people, public health, and the industry.
The industry needs to forget Trump. He is not an ally of the industry, harm reduction, youth justice, or the protection of the health rights of nicotine users.
Yeah, some vape shops are protected. But, there is no guarantee that they will be for long. He also betrayed the concept of standing up for businesses of all sizes.
He has inadvertently handed control of the vapor market to firms like Altria, Juul, Imperial Brands, RJ Reynolds, and others. Firms who can’t play are left in the dust.
Disclosure: The author of this commentary piece is a policy counselor to THR Brasil and a personal friend of Claudio Teixeira. He only provided comments upon a journalistic request. Teixeira had no role in the creation of this piece.