A letter signed by representatives from 19 advocacy groups was sent to U.S. President Donald Trump today urging him to immediately end the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “aggressive regulatory assault” on the vapor industry.
“From inaction on pending product approvals, to threatening letters sent to American manufacturers, and promises to begin new rulemaking that would make illegal certain consumer products, this FDA is currently pursuing several policies that are more extreme than those contemplated by the Obama administration,” the letter reads. “FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s effort to curb the $6.6 billion electronic cigarette industry and an even larger reduced risk tobacco alternatives market is inconsistent with your clearly articulated deregulatory objectives and will destroy jobs, limit consumer freedoms, and harm public health.”
The signatories were: Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR); Lisa Nelson, CEO, ALEC Action; Norm Singleton, president, Campaign for Liberty; Tom Schatz, president, Citizens Against Government Waste; Michelle Minton, senior fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute; Jeff Stier, senior fellow, Consumer Choice Center; Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, director of Regulatory Action Center, FreedomWorks and former Attorney General of Virginia; Henry I. Miller, founding director of the Office of Biotechnology, FDA; Naomi Lopez Bauman, director of Healthcare Policy, Goldwater Institute; Mario H. Lopez, president, Hispanic Leadership Fund; Julie Gunlock, director of Center for Progress and Innovation, Independent Women’s Forum; Bob McClure, president and CEO, The James Madison Institute; Seton Motley, president, Less Government; Pete Sepp, president, National Taxpayers Union; Douglas Kellogg, director, Ohioans for Tax Reform; Henry I. Miller, former director, Office of Biotechnology, FDA; Carrie L. Wade, director of Harm Reduction Policy, R Street Institute; Paul Gessing, president, Rio Grande Foundation; and Tim Andrews, executive director, Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
The letter explains that vapor products do not contain tobacco and deliver nicotine without the combustion or tar that is found in traditional cigarettes. There are also numerous studies that have found that vapor products are at least 95 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes. The letter also states that Gottlieb and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products Director Mitch Zeller, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams have acknowledged the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes.
“Unfortunately, a spike in the use of these products by teens has resulted in regulatory panic and significant government overreach. Commissioner Gottlieb has already pressured major manufacturers of e-cigarettes to remove many products from convenience store shelves, suggested that more than one hundred thousand retailers limit adult access to these products, and threatened to use agency power to remove thousands of legal products from the market,” the letter reads. “We do not write you today urging your administration to ignore the concerns about the use of e-cigarettes by teens. We do, however, urge your administration to subject the FDA’s response and actions to much closer scrutiny and examine it within the context of your broader deregulatory and pro-jobs agenda.”
When President Trump signed Executive Order 13771 “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” he directed departments and agencies to not only eliminate at least two regulations for every new one created but to sensibly manage costs. The deregulatory efforts led to over $33 billion in savings through October of last year, according to the letter. Nearly every department and agency identified harmful regulations and worked to untangle and repeal them. One glaring exception has been the FDA.
“It’s important that we hold the president accountable for the promises he made in the 2016 campaign and initial days of his administration,” said Paul Blair, director of strategic initiatives for ATR. “Regardless of one’s politics, it’s clear that across every department and agency, the deregulatory agenda is being fully implemented. That’s just not happening at the FDA and we want the president to know that conservatives are fed up.”
Blair goes on to say that vapers are passionate consumers and more importantly they represent millions of voters, adding that they believe they’ve made a personal decision to improve their health. “There is a broad coalition in support of our efforts here, it’s not just [ATR’s] discontent at the FDA,” he says. “I want the President to understand that even though ATR has been out in front of this issue for years, we’re not alone in recognizing the importance of getting regulations for the tobacco and vapor industry right.”
It is likely that the impact of the FDA’s proposed, pending, and possible new guidance and rules for vapor products will amount to billions of dollars in lost economic activity and costs, according to the letter. Blair says it’s inexcusable. “At this point, a Hillary Clinton presidency would have been no different for the industry than Trump’s, all thanks to Scott Gottlieb’s misguided crusade.”