A bill that never made it very far last year has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives with the hope that it can save smokers from losing one of the safest alternatives to cigarettes. The Cole-Bishop Amendment would change the Food and Drug Administration’s deeming rules; rules that could wipe most e-cigarettes and e-liquid off the market if they stand as they are.
The problem e-cigarette proponents have with the FDA rules is not the requirements for labeling and warnings, nor is it the requirement that only people over 18 years of age be able to purchase vaping products. Contrary to what anti-vaping groups claim, pro-vaping groups have always believed in age-restriction and full disclosure about ingredients in their products. The issue at hand is the grandfather rule that exempts only vaping products made prior to 2007 from the rules. The 2007 date means that most products currently on the market will be subject to the rules, and that could spell big trouble because of one issue: money.
The most difficult part of the rules that e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturers will have to comply with is the required testing to get FDA approval. This is an expensive process, and even though studies have shown time and again that e-liquid is far safer than tobacco smoking, getting the FDA to officially declare any e-liquid as safe enough to be sold will require a manufacturer to fork over possibly a million dollars per liquid they manufacturer. Since most e-liquid and e-cigarettes are manufactured by small companies, most of them simply will not be able to afford the cost.
The bill, which is a joint effort between Democrat Sanford Bishop of Georgia and Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, would change the grandfather clause to allow all current vaping products to be exempted. Last year, budget issues delayed action being taken on the bill, but it was reintroduced on February 16. It is officially called the FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017, as it seeks clarification on the grandfather date and aims to move it to 2016 so the rules will only apply to new products going forward.
Representative Cole acknowledged that there is disagreement about whether certain tobacco products should be subject to regulations at all, but said that there should be agreement that the deeming rules should not apply retroactively to products because that is “inconsistent” and unfair. Cole’s office also commented that the current FDA rules make it harder for e-cigarettes to come to the market than tobacco cigarettes.
Representative Bishop offered words of praise for vaping in general, saying that vaping products offer, “A promising path for harm reduction for those seeking to quit or limit their smoking.”