The speech everyone was waiting for was everything you might expect. Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, offered a defense of the FDA’s deeming regulations every bit as dishonest and ugly as you can imagine.
If you’ve ever wondered why Democratic politicians can’t grasp the idea that vaping can be a harm reduction tool for smokers, and that the deeming rule only serves to protect the cigarette industry and kill small businesses, watch this. This is the man who defines the debate in Washington and in the American public health space.
Myers asserts again and again that the deeming regs are “flexible,” and that the FDA is actually using its power to protect the health of e-cig users (and presumable smokers too). He speaks at length about the deeming requirements for product listing and testing. Never does he explain that the FDA used public comments on the regulations from RJ Reynolds as a blueprint to create its final version of the rule that that will destroy the independent industry.
And why would he? Myers is the same guy who collaborated with Philip Morris to write the Tobacco Control Act, which grandfathered cigarettes onto the market. Marlboro and Camel never had to complete a PMTA, thanks to Myers. Since the passage of that law, the biggest of the Big Tobacco corporations have had record profits. Which makes sense; after all, he wrote the law in a way that prevents low-risk products from having any real chance of being sold.
He wants the cigarette companies to take over vaping too. Pretending to beat up on evil Big Tobacco has become a growth industry all its own, and it just wouldn’t suit him to have this silly upstart mom-and-pop non-tobacco industry upset his operation. So he lies about e-liquid flavors, and he lies about vaping being part of the tobacco industry.
Deborah Arnott, the CEO of ASH-UK, was supposed to offer some counterpoint to Myers from the British perspective, but wound up just digging a hole and falling into it. She noted that the deeming rule “is so negative” (yup, true), then decided to take a stand against the Cole-Bishop amendment, then wandered into a description of the benefits of UK medical regulations — which has nothing to do with America (the topic).
I watched the blood drain from the faces of everyone in the crowd who wants the independent vaping industry to survive when Arnott decided to let us know that Cole-Bishop is a “very, very bad thing.” She then went on to speak of the bill that would change the deeming predicate date as though it is intended to be a permanent solution, rather than a bandaid till the Tobacco Control Act can be fixed in Congress.
The rumor is that she had lunch with Matt Myers the day before the Summit and that he confused her on the processes of U.S. regulation and legislation. That could very well be true. What’s not a rumor is that a well-known American advocate confronted her later and told her, “You got played by Matt Myers.”
Let’s hope that next year she stays home.