While the country is deeply divided on the issue of Donald Trump becoming the nation’s 45th President, the Republican’s ascent to the highest office in the land could be good news for the vaping industry. At least that’s what vaping companies, and even some tobacco companies, are hoping.
While the point in vaping or using e-cigarettes is to help smokers kick the tobacco cigarette habit, tobacco companies have taken steps to enter the competition’s territory by manufacturing e-cigarettes of their own. The federal government, meanwhile, has continued to make it harder to buy and sell e-cigarettes and e-liquid by its decision that vaping and smoking are basically the same thing. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the government considers e-cigarettes to be tobacco products and subject to the same regulations.
Donald Trump has vowed to cut down on federal regulations for businesses, so the vaping industry and its supporters are hoping they can persuade the Trump administration to halt regulations that will make it extremely difficult for e-cigarettes to be sold. The new rules, set to take effect soon, will require that manufacturers submit vaping products for government approval and put warning labels on their products and advertising. The manufacturers will have to foot the bill for this expensive testing and labeling, and since most e-cigarettes are made and sold by small businesses, most will not be able to afford it. The law will apply to all e-cigarettes manufactured after 2007, which basically means all e-cigarettes on the market now. The end result of the regulations, if they go forward as planned, could be that the U.S. e-cigarette industry would be virtually wiped out.
A coalition of 13 organizations is asking Congress to change the rules to allow products made prior to 2016 to be grandfathered in. Eventually, they would like to get the rule that counts e-cigarettes as tobacco products lifted as well.
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry is becoming a player in the e-cigarette world as both Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have introduced vaping products, though Philip Morris thus far has only put theirs on the market outside of the U.S. British American Tobacco and RJ Reynolds are merging to compete with Philip Morris, with the Reynolds Vuse e-cigarette already doing well in sales in the U.S. The Philip Morris device, called iQOS, is not a traditional e-cig but a device that heats tobacco in stick form to produce vapor.
If the 2007 rule is not changed, tobacco companies would be the e-cigarette manufacturers most likely to be able to afford the approval process and get their vaping products on the market. But tobacco companies are on board with the plan to get Congress to reduce vape product regulations, and these companies have a good deal of lobbying power.
Many health organizations, particularly those associated with government, are opposed to any reduction of vaping regulations because of their continued obsession with the possibility of children being seduced by nicotine. The hope for vaping is that the Trump Administration may be able to facilitate a government shift to a harm-reduction approach and away from the abstinence-only approach of the past several years.