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A grassroots petition seeks to rein in Obama's war on vaping

The millions of adults who vape and the thousands of new independent businesses that sell vapor products, however, aren't sitting on the sidelines. They're fighting back.

When the Obama administration finalized a rule in May of last year that classified vapor products as "tobacco," it set in motion a two-year march towards the type of prohibition not seen since the early 1900s.

The "Deeming Rule" requires that manufacturers of vapor products and electronic cigarettes undergo a prohibitively-expensive and potentially-impossible retroactive pre-approval process at the Food and Drug Administration in order to continue selling products already available to adult consumers. Achieving what they never could with government coercion against cigarette use – consumer abstinence and the destruction of the industry – bureaucrats and science-deniers at organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids are hoping that no one in the Trump administration takes a second look.

The millions of adults who vape and the thousands of new independent businesses that sell vapor products, however, aren't sitting on the sidelines. They're fighting back.

After an unsuccessful effort to rein in the FDA's regulatory overreach as part of the FY17 federal budget, a number of businesses and associations have filed what is known as a "Citizen Petition" with the FDA. Their ask is fairly simple: a reasonable delay in upcoming product application deadlines and for clear guidance on how to actually get products which are already on the market re-approved for future use.

This isn't one of those activist petition email or letter campaigns. The FDA Citizen Petition is a real and formal process described in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The process allows the public to ask the FDA commissioner to "issue, amend, or revoke a regulation or order," or "take or refrain from taking any other form of administrative action." The FDA is obligated to respond within 150 days of the petition's request(s).

The petition filed on May 12 by the Vapor Technology Association, Smoke-free Alternatives Trade Association, NJOY LLC, and several other businesses urges the FDA to allow businesses that had products on the market last year to continue selling those products beyond an arbitrary November 2018 cutoff for the sale of products, pending the submission of what is known as a Pre-Market Tobacco Application. The PMTA is the impossible application process that could cost small businesses millions of dollars for each product they produce without a guarantee of approval.

This is important

Even if you have never smoked a cigarette, couldn't care less about vapor products, and think the government has an important role in discouraging vices, the Obama administration overreached big time. Under the guise of "regulation" the FDA rolled out rules that are impossible to comply with because they were designed to keep new products off the market. This new age prohibition was clever and will be quite disasterous.

The new head of the FDA, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, should swiftly consider this Citizen Petition request and immediately issue a two-year delay of a rule that stands to kill tens of thousands of new jobs and unquestionably will harm public health.

This isn't only a policy debate over the regulation of new innovative smoking cessation products; it's a debate that could have significant and national political consequences.

With more than 9 million adult consumers, taking away products that some attribute to saving their lives will spell political disaster for whoever is in charge and in the line of fire. These newly-political consumers are fierce advocates, independent-minded, and may represent the greatest and most powerful addition to the limited-government coalition since Democrats started screwing with gun owners and the school choice movement.

The consumers and the new businesses that sell these products -- from vape shops to liquid and device manufacturers -- are pursuing numerous strategies at the legislative, legal, political, and now regulatory levels. Each has its own merits but what is true across every strategy is that absent action from Congress, the courts, or the Trump administration, countless small businesses will be shut down and millions of consumers will be without choices when it comes to the decision to quit smoking.

If vapor products are wiped out, adult consumers who tried to kick the habit will be forced to return to smoking. Is that what we really want?

Written by: Paul Blair
Source: Washington Examiner

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