The Stupid, Lopsided War Against Electronic Vapor Devices

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to pack on new regulatory muscle any day now, as the announced end-of-October deadline for new regulations against the so-called “electronic cigarette” industry approaches.

The FDA is attempting an end run around an earlier Federal court decision that shot down the agency’s attempt to ban the devices, after the FDA lost its argument that vaporizers fall into the category of drug delivery devices because they have the capability of delivering nicotine to the user.

So, instead, the FDA is seeking to regulate vaporizers under the same authority it’s been given to regulate tobacco products.

That’s stupid. But, for now, the only people who seem to care that a public health revolution in the making is on the verge of being stamped out by government sanctimony are those who’ve kicked the smoking habit in favor of vaporizers, along with a number of start-up companies – at least those that haven’t yet been bought up by the tobacco industry – that market the devices. The number of vaporizer users – or “vapers” – is surging dramatically, but it’s still paltry compared to the pervasiveness of the tobacco industry.

Writing for the New York Post today, Jacob Sullum (and a few commenters) elegantly condemned the FDA’s chicken-little attempt to demonize electronic vaping by (wrongly) associating the behavior with smoking combustible tobacco:

 Sales of electronic cigarettes have risen dramatically in recent years. Whether you see that development as an opportunity or a threat depends on whether you view the matter rationally or through a fog of prejudice that makes anything resembling a cigarette look sinister, regardless of the risks it actually poses.

… Maria Azzarelli, coordinator of the Southern Nevada Health District’s tobacco control program, recently told the Las Vegas Sun that “no one can say right now whether e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to cigarettes.” Really? No one can say whether inhaling vapor containing nicotine, flavoring and propylene glycol, which the FDA has approved as an ingredient in food and medicine, is safer than inhaling smoke?

… [W]hy the strange resistance to e-cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and generate no smoke, among people concerned about the health hazards of tobacco and smoking? Like other activists and some politicians, Azzarelli claims to be worried that e-cigarettes will make the conventional variety seem glamorous again. “We’re very concerned that what [was] becoming passé — smoking — is now coming back,” she says.

In other words, Azzarelli and her fellow activists worry that a product whose main selling point is avoiding the scary hazards and offensive stench of smoking somehow will make smoking more appealing. That fear seems implausible, to say the least, and there is no evidence to support it.

But bureaucratic will (and, possibly, tobacco money) is on the side of overreaction. Something must be done, because, well, the kids and the tobacco tax dollars, and the eroding market share, and the tobacco lobby.

Forty-one State attorneys general sent a letter to the FDA last month, pleading with the agency to meet its October deadline on imposing restrictions against the vaping industry. They fret that the products are being marketed to kids – a risible belief. Vaporizer manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand they’ve seen from adult smokers lining up to make the switch, and the vaping market would have to mature over the course of many years before it could even afford the luxury of corrupting itself by seeking out future nicotine addicts. Customers in the here and now are already queued up around the block, taking what they hope will be their last puffs on tobacco cigarettes.

The vaporizer market is resigned to some form of FDA regulation, and has openly embraced the agency’s forthcoming restriction on selling and marketing to minors. That won’t hamper the industry, because – unlike Big Tobacco – nobody in the industry was doing that in the first place.

But they draw a line when it comes to demonizing vaporizers by applying all of the same advertising restrictions, health warnings and taxes that have grown, over decades, to encumber Big Tobacco. Their product has only nicotine in common with Big Tobacco, and that simply isn’t reason enough to hand the reins of power to government in the name of protecting their smoke-free adult customers from themselves.

One Post commenter brought the words of C.S. Lewis to bear on the government’s hypocritical and dangerous regulatory push into the vaping world – words that apply to nanny government and its executors wherever they may be found:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

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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  • michael hartley

    More Big Brother…

  • Stuart Shepherd

    I’m not surprised. Don’t you define a sociopath as one who acts with the most heinous disregard for others, up to and including their death, if something gives them even a moment of narcissistic pleasure. Those e-cigarettes got me off cigarettes, when even the patch, Chantix, and certainly willpower failed. My health is much better! Sure sounds like something that should be banned! You CONSTANTLY are asking- who ARE these people?! Really, who ARE they? Are they normal, decent, hard-working, reasonably moral and caring people such that you could have a conversation with them and not feel like you were speaking to Son of Sam or something? Narcissistic sociopathy. there is something, at their core, literally WRONG with them. It is that condescending “liberal” COMPENSATORY arrogance and need for control because they’re either lesbians or gay or somehow feel inadequate without the power to tell others what to do, etc, whether or not it makes any sense. Liberalism = compensatory slimeballhood.

  • JimH

    Regulation is just the word they’re using to mean tax.
    It just galls them it’s not taxed.

  • DeeDers

    I used to smoke and it helped me to quit. I have a suspicion the real reason is because the GOVERNMENT IS NOT COLLECTING ALL THOSE EXTRA TAXES US FORMER SMOKERS WERE PAYING when we would buy a pack of cigarettes. The Government says one thing like they want you to quit then gets upset when they lose their TAX REVENUE. BTW smokers get taxed twice when buying cigarettes.

  • usaok59

    Big Brother and Big Tobacco!!

  • GiveMeLiberty,OrGiveMeDeath

    I use the Vapor cigarettes, and I have been able to quit smoking Tar and all the additives, I tried the patch, was allergic to the glue, tried the gum and lozenges and had the habit of wanting to hold the cig, problem, Vapor has nicotine just the same as the Lozenges, Gum, and Patch and these things are over the counter, so what is the problem… I no longer smell like smoke, and I feel better than I have for years. So Nanny State, Shut the Heck Up. Oh yea I tried Chantix, now that almost killed me, or rather almost had me kill myself, talking about messing with a persons head, that drug is a true nightmare,

  • wavesofgrain

    OMG…this government is out of control! I would like to see a list of the “41 Governors” who are pleading for the ban. Their rationalizing of the E-cigs makes just about as much sense as saying Diet soda makes ‘sugar drinks’ more appealing…therefore should be banned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • IBCAMN

      whao,don’t give them any ideas!

  • IBCAMN

    you know whats messed up about this is,that unions want to tell the gov’t that it’s okay for pedophiles to get jobs around kids at schools and that it’s okay for banks to hire felony bank robber ex cons and former B&E ex cons to work for private security firms for home owners of high wealth!?!and this product is not even a major threat and the gov’t wants to get involved,but then skims over a horrible threat to life!?!WTF?
    i think this comes down to the gov’t doesn’t want a new big company(s) to start up,let alone succeed!welcome to the NWO.,Amerika,USSA.home of the affordable health care system!

    PS,two more countries socialized health care just went belly up,insolvent!

  • Uma

    Great read, very insightful!

  • Motov

    I think it is because it actually works, and government is against things that actually work. I mean what is in it for the government?