Published on March 29th, 2017 | by Jimmy Hafrey
The Heartland Institute continued its series of Wednesday evening events with a talk titled “Vaping: How Government Regulation Can Kill Innovation.”
The talk was given by Dr. Brad Rodu and Pamela Gorman. Rodu is a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville and a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. He has been an active participant in the realm of research and policy development in tobacco harm reduction for over two decades.
Gorman is a former smoker who switched to vaping in 2013 and has since become the executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association. As a politician, Gorman served the state of Arizona as both a congresswoman and a senator and has most recently worked in both the vaping and tobacco industries.
The two came together to talk about vaping, how it differs from the smoking, and why the deeming regulation handed down by the Food and Drug Administration posts a threat to this burgeoning industry.
The talk, which was accompanied by a powerpoint presentation, first touched on the difference between vaping and smoking, stating that many countries are recommending vaping as a smoking cessation method and is considered to be the safest alternative to smoking. This is because smoking is a habit that includes smoke that is created by combustible cigarettes, whereas vaping is heating a liquid that becomes a vapor.
The fact that vaping is less dangerous than cigarettes is not arguable; it is fact. According to a report done by the American Association of Poison Control Centers in 2015, vape products came in last at 0.5 percent out of over half a million reported exposure toxins. For comparison, cosmetics and hygiene products came in at 26 percent and household cleaners at 21 percent.
Another point made by Rodu and Gorman is that while nicotine can be addictive, it can also be used in a safe manner. It is much like caffeine in that respect, which many people drink on an everyday basis. Both of these substances have neurological benefits, such as enhancing concentration and performance levels while also not being linked to any major diseases currently recognized by science.
Rodu and Gorman both point out that other smoking cessation methods, such as nicotine patches and gums, are not only a temporary solution to addiction to traditional smoking, it is also expensive and unsatisfying for smokers who are trying to quit. Alternatively, vaping provides smokers a smoking cessation method that can mimic the behaviors of smoking, making it is easier to quit and reducing the chance for a relapse.
The fact that the United Kingdom, the United States’ closest ally, not only accepts vaping but recommends it as an alternative to smoking is not lost in the talk as well. In fact, both speakers took the time to compare and contrast how the US and the UK differ in analyses of vaping.
The United States’ federal agencies, including the FDA, the CDC, and the NIH, all claim that vaping has no scientific grounds for being considered a smoking cessation method or that it is even safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. The agencies also maintain that vaping should be regulated as tobacco products and that nicotine patches and gum are the only “safe” ways to quit smoking. This is beside the idea being put forth by the U.S. Surgeon General’s office that vaping might act as a gateway to smoking for teens and young adults.
What the US federal agencies do not say is that many other smoking cessation methods are controlled by Big Tobacco, meaning that people who are trying to quit smoking are given the alternative to do just that by the tobacco companies who would be losing their money. It’s important to question whether or not current nicotine packs and gums are doing enough to help people quit smoking or whether it’s just another way to get money from smokers who will, at some point in the future, return to smoking.
In contrast, the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, both governing bodies in the UK, have found that vaping is, in fact, an effective way to quit smoking, does not seem to have a significant impact for those who do not vape, and do not serve as a gateway to smoking for teens. The bodies also recommended that vaping being promoted to smokers in the country by physicians, making vaping more mainstream across the pond than here at home.
This talk wound down with a conversation on the FDA’s so-called “deeming rule” that is aimed at vaping. It is the rule handed down by the administration to classify vape products as tobacco products, even though the only ingredient in common is nicotine; some companies now use synthetic nicotine and therefore should not be classified as nicotine.
This rule, which was made effective in August of 2016, will essentially decimate the market as it stands now. All the products currently on the market must undergo the expensive and arduous process of PMTAs before being available for public consumption; the deadline for that is August 8, 2018.
As it stands, Goran states that 99.9 percent of the vape products currently on the market will vanish; this is because the PMTA process can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per product, leaving companies bankrupt. This, in turn, will leave smokers with no alternative that can even come close to resembling smoking without the same harmful side effects.
There is hope on the horizon, though, as the talk concluded with a word about the Cole-Bishop Amendment, which was first introduced in Congress last year and has made it onto the schedule for this Congressional session. It is an amendment to the current regulations that would move the predicate date from February 8, 2008, to February 8, 2016, allowing the vape market to thrive. This publication hopes that the new administration will see the need to reclassify vaping and allow it to save lives.