The 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill may not seem like a stirring piece of legislation to most, but it raised quite a few eyebrows last week as it passed through a House subcommittee with a key amendment—one that aims to spare the vast majority of electronic cigarettes from impending federal regulations.
The bipartisan effort to protect the burgeoning e-cig market is just the latest in a long-smoldering debate reignited by the Food and Drug Administration’s plans this year to begin regulating the new devices as it does traditional tobacco products.
Several studies found that smokers were at least 15 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than people who don’t already smoke. And this is one of the reasons vaping advocates and politicians pushed for the agriculture bill amendment protecting e-cigarette devices last week. If enacted, the amendment would effectively abolish a “predicate” date written into the FDA’s proposed rules. The regulations are written such that any electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, or other smokeless tobacco products introduced after the predicate date of February 15, 2007 would get pulled from the market to go through an FDA pre-market approval process. Since the vast majority of such devices were introduced after 2007, the rule could decimate access to e-cigarettes and kill off many small vaping companies, critics argued. In turn, the regulation would give an upper hand to big tobacco companies, which currently have only a small share of the e-cig market but could easily weather such regulatory storms, critics add.
The bipartisan amendment, introduced by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), passed in a 31 to 19 vote last Tuesday.
Finally going in the right direction!