FDA Pushes To Regulate E-Cig Industry Like It’s Big Tobacco

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No one really knows whether tobacco-free electronic vaporizers offer a straight-up healthy alternative to smoking. But anecdotal evidence, as well as common sense, suggests that they’re better than inhaling smoke from combusted tobacco leaves. Most vaporizing devices have no tobacco products of any kind in them, and none of them creates smoke for users to inhale.

Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration is taking on the growing vaporizing industry as if it were Big Tobacco, announcing Thursday it plans to regulate the e-cig industry in much the same way it regulates the cancer sticks.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s prepared remarks in announcing the proposed new rules suggest she possesses a singular measure of insight into the biological and cultural perils of e-cigs, and has satisfied herself that they are, for all intents and purposes, Big Tobacco Part II. She even refers to vaporizers as “tobacco products.”

“Tobacco remains the leading cause of death and disease in this country. This is an important moment for consumer protection and a significant proposal that if finalized as written would bring FDA oversight to many new tobacco products,” said Hamburg.

For the vast majority of consumable vaporizer products, nicotine is the only ingredient common to both e-cigs and analog cigarettes.

Most of the pressure to exert FDA control over the vaporizer market has come from the political left, with Democratic lawmakers and a handful of interest groups castigating manufacturers and vendors for catering to children with fruity flavors, and insinuating that taking up e-cigs amounts to the first step toward all-out cigarette addiction.

The new rules, which are now subject to a 75-day public comment period, would force manufacturers to register with the FDA, and to provide the agency with a listing of the ingredients that goes into the consumable portion of their products. The rules would also block all new e-cigs from entering the market until the FDA had cleared the products via a mandatory review, and would block the sale of the devices to minors.

However, the proposal would not shut down the burgeoning online marketplace for vaporizers — an enormously vital part of the industry’s recent growth.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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