November 14th Deseret News Rebuttal
This post is in response to the Deseret News editorial posted today at the following link. Because they limit responses to 200 words, we posted a very brief response with a link to this posting. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865641501/The-FDAs-delay-in-releasing-electronic-cigarette-regulations-is-putting-the-young-at-risk.html
Everyone, even the editorial board is entitled to their opinion. However, for a journalistic source, one would hope they would at least get their facts straight and tell the truth; or has the Deseret News turned into nothing more than an outlet to spew rhetoric over facts?
While it’s true the public comment period has ended, it is not true the FDA is sitting back waiting on the results of studies (although they should). At the present time, the proposed regulations (of which nobody has seen after the recent edits) are sitting with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The law requires the OMB/OIRA to go through a brief public comment period of their own which allows the citizens of the US to meet and discuss impact, whether positive or negative. This process is underway and is running through around the end of the year.
You claim that millions of Americans are ingesting harmful chemicals with long-term consequence yet provide no data to back it up. Maybe because there is data of which you can refer to. All agencies within the US are too blinded by the tax money they get from combustible tobacco that you would rather demonize an industry that has helped nearly 15 million smokers break free. Our allies in the UK have done what nobody in the US has been willing to do; they commissioned studies and reviewed all existing ones and determined e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than inhaling tobacco smoke (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/457102/Ecigarettes_an_evidence_update_A_report_commissioned_by_Public_Health_England_FINAL.pdf).
You ask that the FDA releases the regulations but you must understand something about this $3.5 Billion dollar industry. With the industry, comes jobs. By our estimation, around 75,000 US jobs to be precise. There are over 600 of your Utah friends and family members employed in this industry. Our industry has been pivotal in the historic low smoking rates recently reported by the CDC. Something that no government agency could do but private industry did without any taxpayer assistance. These regulations, pose a very real risk to forcing over 75,000 Americans out of work and around 12,000 business owners into bankruptcy.
Our industry has never condoned underage usage and are among the most vocal against it. We self-police social media and regularly report illegal activities to the necessary authorities. We are regularly visited by the police performing underage stings and have a high success rate in stopping the sale; unlike many other points of retail which the kids know will sell them. We asked the 2015 legislature to implement a law requiring the use of electronic age verification at every retail point of sale statewide that sells age restricted products (alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarette products). This was rejected before it even made it to committee. Ask yourselves, why does THIS industry want it but the lawmakers and lobbyists don’t? Who do you think wants the kids smoking and using age restricted products?
You claim that the use of flavors is used to lure kids into using our products. Several population level studies consisting of 10’s of thousands of adult consumers shows that the flavors are what allowed the products to be successful in our journey to quit. One such study can be found here: http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/12/7272. Many industries use flavors not to attract kids, but because adults enjoy flavors. Continuing to argue this is our target audience is slanderous at best. If anyone doesn’t believe me, all you have to do is walk into a liquor store and look at cupcake vodka or look at the pharmaceutical industry in their manufacturing of Fruit Chill nicotine gum.
You state that some of the vapor tested contains heavy metals and organic compounds. While this is true, what you do not state is that the metals detected are below USP standards for metals in inhalation medications. You also do not inform the readers that the NRT products which the Utah taxpayers fund to hand out at no cost to smokers also contains heavy metals and at levels higher than e-cigarettes. This isn’t to say that improvement isn’t needed but you must be honest to the readers.
While usage by underage youth is unacceptable, the data actually disproves the gateway theory since underage smoking is at historic low rates and seems to indicate e-cigarettes are diverting our teens away from combustible tobacco. Whether the products are advertised or not, illegal or not, our teens will find a way to get them. We see this with the SHARP data showing the use of marijuana which is federally illegal and only available in the black market. We see it with alcohol which is only available to those over 21 (which by the way, neither product is regulated by the FDA).
What public health and our media owe to the people is the truth. The truth that your addiction to the tax money and creating moral panic is more important to you than the health of the people. The truth that for 20 years, the smoking rates plateaued and nothing was making a dent. The truth that THIS consumer run industry did in 10 years what public health could not, by being the reason nearly 9 million Americans are no longer smoking. The truth that if the FDA regulations are enacted as they are written, this industry will close almost overnight forcing over 9 million Americans back to combustible tobacco.
Public health and our media suggest that only FDA approved cessation products should be used to quit smoking. What they are telling the 42 million smokers is that if they can’t quit, they should die trying rather than to use a product which is scientifically proven to be at least 95% less harmful. Shame on public health. Shame on the Deseret News. Don’t be a sheeple and simply believe everything that you read in the media. Do your own research. We provided links above and are happy to provide you whatever you need to come to your own informed conclusion.by