Published on February 21st, 2017 | by Jimmy Hafrey
Now that the Trump Administration has made itself comfortable in the White House, Congress representatives aren’t wasting any time in trying to get legislation passed to save vaping from the clutches of the FDA.
PBS Newshour is reporting that Representatives Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, and Sanford Bishop, a Democrat from Georgia, are trying, once again, to get their amendment in front of Congress for a vote. Readers familiar with the bill will recall that the Cole-Bishop Amendment eliminated the “Grandfather Clause” that has been so detrimental to vape shops.
This “grandfather clause” was the FDA’s assertion that any vape product that was created after the predicate date was subject to Pre-Market Tobacco Application. That predicate date was set as February 15, 2007, nearly a year before the vape industry got started in America. The PMTA is also a long and expensive process that is expected to take up to two years to complete and could cost vape companies as much as $800,000 for each individual product.
Every single product at every nicotine level will be required to undergo the same application process, leaving thousands of vape shops and companies across the country either in dire financial straits and barely operating, or could eventually close the entire market down in the country.
Cole and Bishop introduced their amendment last year prior to the close of the session, but the bill never made it to the floor for a vote.
Now, the two have revised their amendment and introduced a bill that is called a “clarification” of the FDA regulations. The bill is called the “FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017” and is an attempt to get rid of the grandfather clause the agency put into law last year.
“Vapor products offer a promising path for harm reduction for those seeking to quit or limit their smoking,” said Bishop in a statement released by his staff last week. “This legislation would ensure the FDA’s regulatory process does not limit the availability of safer tobacco options for those seeking to make use of them.”
Cole’s office shared the sentiment in another statement, stating that: “The FDA effectively is making it more difficult for vapor products to come to market than cigarettes.”
Big Tobacco has fought the FDA proposal for years, even enlisting known lobbyists such as former Senator Mary Landrieu to help with the efforts. When the FDA’s regulations began to threaten the vape industry, vape activists and business owners joined the fight, advocating for a fair revision of the regulations currently holding the market hostage.
Those against smoking and vaping are fighting to keep the changes.
Matthew L. Myers is the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and has fought against both vaping and smoking for the last decade. In an interview, he said that he was not surprised by the reappearance of the bill.
When asked about his feelings on the vaping amendment, Myers stated that: “You can put any gloss on it you want, this is the tobacco industry’s effort to continue to market flavored tobacco products to hook another generation of kids.”
There is no word yet if the amendment will be debated in committee or on the floor of either the House or the Senate, but activists are confident that with the new administration comes new lawmakers with different perspectives. Now the industry just has to wait until the amendment is finally put on the schedule.