Monday, 30 May 2016

Has the FDA overreacted to any potential threat from vaping?

As the US vaping market begins to adapt to a new regulatory environment there are real concerns that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) may have overreacted to the potential threat from vaping. As of today all products brought to market after 2007 will have to be submitted to the FDA for rigourous testing which will be extremely costly. Only products which have been passed by the FDA will be available for sale to the US public.

When you bear a mind the number of products which have been brought to market after 2007 we can only guess at the potential backlog this will create. That is assuming the underlying companies have the finances available to go through the costly application process.

Has the FDA overreacted?

When the FDA issued a directive to extend existing tobacco regulations to vaping products back in April 2014 there was an interesting phrase which cropped up. The FDA itself commented on numerous occasions that it does “not currently have sufficient data to determine what effect e-cigarettes have on the public health”. This stage of the regulatory process itself cast a number of doubts over the legality and morality of regulating the vaping sector before any potential health implications had been proven.

While the regulator attempted to backtrack in more recent times suggesting the comments related to the fact it was unable to prove any benefits of electronic cigarettes this has not stopped the critics.

Is the FDA doing more harm than good?

There is no denying that the FDA is in a difficult situation, looking to protect the health of the general public, while also allow products which could help wean people off tobacco products. In a perfect world perhaps it would be understandable that the regulator has some reservations about vaping products on a stand-alone basis. However, when they are compared to tobacco cigarettes this is a whole different ballgame, something which the FDA seems to have ignored?

Bringing in regulations which combine tobacco cigarettes and vaping products is just plain and simply wrong. While nicotine is obviously the main connection between these two products, other than that they are like chalk and cheese. Perhaps critics would have been less damning if the FDA had brought in lighter touch regulations for the vaping industry rather than extending the draconian tobacco regulations?

How will this affect US tobacco cigarette sales?

A recent report confirmed the largest fall in the rate of smoking amongst the US population over the last 20 years. A 2% fall is double the average 1% per annum reduction we have seen in recent times and while some may overlook the vaping industry, is it a coincidence that vaping sales have mushroomed while tobacco cigarette sales have fallen dramatically?

If the innovation and entrepreneurship which has been the lifeblood of the vaping sector is curtailed in any way there could be serious problems going forward. If vaping products are more difficult to buy, if advertising is curtailed and regulatory costs increase, this will certainly reduce the number of people switching from tobacco cigarettes to vaping. This in turn would likely slow down the ongoing reduction in smoking rates across the US with potentially damning health implications.

Will the FDA live to regret the introduction of strict vaping regulations?

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