How far will the FDA take their E-cigarette regulations? I’m sure that’s the top question on every Facebook-active vaper right about now. There are a number of preliminary moves already in place to strike at our industry without mercy. Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009), which essentially establishes an avenue for direct regulation of tobacco products solely by the FDA. And now, thanks to various anti-smoking/anti-tobacco lobbying groups, the types of regulations allowed under the Act have run amuck. If E-cigarettes become officially categorized as a tobacco product, which both the FDA and Big Tobacco are attempting to effect, then all of these restrictions will suddenly, overnight, be applicable to E-cigarettes. These restrictions are strict enough to destroy the E-cigarette industry as it exists today.
Firstly, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act puts in place an outright ban on flavored cigarettes and tobacco products (except for straight tobacco flavor and of course menthol). What’s your favorite E-juice flavor? Mine is my own personal cocktail of banana/coconut/pear cream pie. But I might need to abandon that flavor and choose between tobacco-flavored and menthol very soon. If nicotine juice used for inhaling nicotine emulsified in glycol vapor is to be legally defined as a “tobacco” product, than obviously the argument can easily be made in court that flavored E-juices fall under the jurisdiction of this portion of the Act.
The Act also stipulates that all “tobacco” companies (read: all E-juice companies) refrain from the use of the words “light, mild, and low-tar.” By extension, this would also cover products that promote themselves as “no-tar,” such as E-liquid that actually contains… well, no tar!
In a related category, “tobacco” companies are required to disclose all ingredients, contents, content changes, and health-effects research findings. (Here you’ll find a sneaky, underhanded control measure used all too often by the government and its multiple agencies and departments: List several easy, unnoticeable legal requirements along with the one requirement that actually carries a significant amount of weight and near-tyrannical measures of absolute control. The “real” goal is housed amid red herrings) If you think about this one briefly, you’ll very likely notice that in order to disclose research findings, you need to first have research findings. In short, unless your company is large enough and has enough cash flow to pay for incredibly expensive scientific studies in approved laboratory conditions, you’re gonna have to go home and play a different game. It goes without saying that something like this makes the Big Tobacco companies very happy, because they already pay for and complete these types of scientific findings. Why would the FDA even feel it necessary to include, in a list of requirements, this segment on scientific research? They do their own research, and they can’t be so naive as to trust a company to “discover” that their own product is harming or killing their customers… There’s no reason for this stipulation to even be included in the Act unless Big Tobacco themselves suggested its inclusion in order to eliminate competition and maintain their total ownership and control of the tobacco industry (and E-cigarette industry).
The fun continues with the next requirement. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act expressly prohibits any kind of claims about the health benefits of reduced-risk products. I don’t know about you, but I’m embarrassed to even be associated with a nation where the preceding sentence even exists in written form, let alone becomes an enforceable, legal condition for business. This portion of the Act does allow for claims that are scientifically proven, but then negates even that provision if it is determined (by the FDA) that that scientifically proven health-benefit claim would cause public harm. So, in an effort to bring some semblance of sense to pure chaos, this part of the law is tantamount to the FDA saying, “We don’t care if your scientific research says that milk is healthy and contains calcium for bone-strengthening. Anything with fat grams is unhealthy to the public, so you can’t tell people that your milk products are healthy.” Push this insanity a step further and continue with this analogy and you’ll see warnings on milk gallons telling you that the substance contained therein will cause you to die early of a heart attack.
Now we come to the crux of the Tobacco Control Act: Advertising. The Act brings some very strict requirements to the advertising of tobacco products. Among some of these are the requirements that tobacco ads be restricted to black-and-white text only, that no ads be located anywhere near schools or locations frequented by minors, that no tobacco advertising be located near cash registers at stores (to lessen impulse buying by addicts), etc. How does this translate to E-cigs? Well, when the FDA decides to exercise control over the E-cigarette industry, which is almost a foregone conclusion at this point, they can argue that minors are on facebook, so tobacco product (read E-liquid product) promotions, ads, profiles, pages, etc. cannot be allowed on social networking sites because it puts the advertisements in too close proximity to children. These ads and profiles are also in vivid color, and therefore violate the black-and-white requirements. Last but not least, smokers have Facebook profiles, so if they see an advertisement for “tobacco” products, they might be struck with a sudden impulse to go out and buy a pack of cigarettes… or a bottle of E-juice to refill their E-cig. So if all of this moves just a few steps further, any sort of E-cigarette presence on FB is gone! And all of this is subject to the whims of the FDA. No voting, no democratic processes, to contacting your congressman, no complaining in any way, shape, or form. Just fall in line, take your loaf of dry, stale bread, and shut the f**k up! And I don’t think I need to highlight how this system of governance plays out in other, non-nicotine areas of life… like food, medicine, books, clothing, conversations, number of children, which god you worship… sound far-fetched? Read a few books on the Bolshevik Revolution (while it’s still legal!)