Electronic cigarettes and vaping have become an acceptable alternative to those who use tobacco products to decrease the harmful effects of smoking. While companies who manufacture and sell e-cigs and vaping products do not claim the devices as a smoking cessation program, many individuals have stopped using tobacco products and smoking in favor of vaping. However, that all may change with the passage of the $1.1 trillion Omnibus Bill.
Spurred by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrats killed a rider that would have changed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations requiring all e-cigarette products released after February 15, 2007, to undergo the Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) process. Because Democrats killed the rider, 99% of the e-cigarette industry is in jeopardy. With the process costing between $2-10 million for each product, small vaping businesses will incur astronomical costs to get their goods approved. Since many small vaping businesses sells dozens and even hundreds of products, the exclusion means the removal of products from the shelf, thereby jeopardizing the ability for the small business to remain open.
While Democrats and Pelosi declared “No GOP rider providing a big gift to the tobacco industry,” advocates claim it was the exclusion of the rider that gave the gift to Big Tobacco.
Polls indicate the number of individuals who smoke cigarettes are decreasing and have been since the beginning of the decade. Of particular interest is the belief that the increasing of a tax on cigarettes is the biggest contributor. However, the beginning of the decade saw various pharmaceutical products enter the market to assist individuals to quit smoking. Other products, previously on the market, became more attractive for ease of use. And, later, electronic cigarettes and vaping devices entered the scene providing an additional alternative to replace tobacco.
The use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices provided former smokers the psychological effect of smoking (throat hit, hand business, oral satisfaction) while negating the adverse effects associated with smoking — dangerous second hand smoke, cancerous toxins found in tobacco, and cost. The cost of vaping or e-cig use is much less than cigarettes, removing a large portion of profits out of the hands of the tobacco industry. While these products offer liquids containing nicotine, non-nicotine liquids are available, which many individuals decrease their nicotine intake down in order to ease the nicotine withdrawal symptoms while emulating the actions of smoking. Some continue to vape non-nicotine liquids for the enjoyment of vaping different flavors.
With the almost death of the e-cigarette and vaping industry, it places more profits in the hands of tobacco companies through allowing them a monopoly on the remaining 1% market.
It is known that big tobacco companies employ lobbyists to grease the palms of politicians like Pelosi to keep their profits high. This is done through killing safer, non-tobacco products even though taxes are raised on tobacco products. While some studies indicate smoking decreases as taxes on tobacco products, particularly cigarettes, increases, it is an association difficult to make when smoking cessation products were made more readily available and affordable. And, the taxes are more disparaging to low income individuals, who may or may not cease smoking because of it.
A good example of this is alcohol. Those who regularly partake of alcohol will continue their intake of alcohol, regardless of a tax. Even when prohibition was implemented, alcohol went underground and bootlegging ramped up. Consumption didn’t stop. Those who heavily use alcohol didn’t stop even with taxation after prohibition.
Alcohol can cause as many health problems as tobacco use. The biggest difference is state and local governments can make money off alcohol through catching impaired drivers through unconstitutional road checks, court fees, and classes ordered by the court.
Medical professionals, including those on the TV show, The Doctors, have praised the e-cigarette and vaping industry for offering a safer alternative to cease smoking. Even gums and patches contain nicotine to ease symptoms — the same as e-cigs and vaping products. However, gums and patches do not offer the same psychological effect as vaping and e-cigs, making these more attractive than gums or patches.
Pharmaceutical products geared toward smoking cessation require a prescription and physician monitoring. These products can have unpleasant and dangerous side effects. Plus, many individuals do not want to rely on pharmaceutical products that are expensive, require a physician’s visit and monitoring along with dangerous side effects and potential reactions with other drugs or foods.
What is truly at play here is members of Congress, particularly Democrats, to satisfy the lobbyists for the tobacco companies and Big Pharma, are providing the federal government an additional avenue to micro-manage the daily lives of individuals. It is also another way to remove freedom and liberty. While smoking cigarettes, using other tobacco products (snuff, chew, pipe), and ingestion of alcohol can harm a person’s health, the person has the freedom to choose these activities, while businesses maintain the freedom to limit them.
Look at it this way: Obesity is a problem in the united States across all socioeconomic lines and ages. What Pelosi and Democrats did against the e-cig and vaping industry amounts to Congress taxing chocolate and ice cream while providing strict regulation of sugar.
If Congress can regulate something like this through FDA regulations, they can do the same with certain foods deemed unhealthy.
It will be up to consumers of e-cig and vaping products to contact their Representatives and Senators to affect the change in this travesty. In the meantime, big tobacco and big pharma “get their profit on” while Pelosi and Democrats get their kickbacks. As always, it’s about the money and limiting freedom.