The Trump administration has proposed a new agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) specifically for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in a move that may shake up the regulatory atmosphere around vaping products and possibly upset those in favor of tobacco control as well as flavor bans. Currently, several states have varying degrees of flavor bans, and several more states are proposing flavor bans as well.
The interest among lawmakers is low but could be an interesting move during an election year and could drastically alter the path of PMTA if implemented before the May 12, 2020 deadline. Joe Grogan, the director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, questioned whether or not the FDA should even regulate tobacco products in November 2019.
Grogan took a hardline stance against tobacco products in particular but did not specifically mention vape products. “FDA regulates drugs, which help people,” he said. “It regulates devices, which help people. Tobacco has no redeeming qualities,” he said. Grogan clarified that it was his personal stance and not the administration’s stance, although the path to separate the Center for Tobacco Products entirely from the FDA could alter the regulation of vape products if Trump’s proposals go through.
The proposal would shift the focus of the FDA to “focus on its traditional mission of ensuring the safety of the nation’s food and medical supply,” according to the budget request. The new head of this tobacco regulating agency would have similar requirements to the FDA commissioner. It would require Senate confirmation, which would “increase direct accountability and more effectively respond to this critical area of public health concern.” Right now, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products, which is under the FDA, does not require Senate confirmation.
How would this affect vape products?
E-cigarettes were deemed to be tobacco products under the Deeming Rule and were consequently placed under the same regulations as the traditional tobacco requirements under former President Barack Obama’s 2009 Tobacco Control Act. Over a decade later, vaping is now at the forefront of legislative battles in various states. Many vapers have credited flavors in eJuices as a form of harm reduction, and local vape shops have been the access point for flavors in their communities.
Creating a new agency for tobacco products with its director position requiring Senate confirmation might be a compromise between tobacco control advocates and vapers. It could increase transparency in the regulation process and allow for the proper regulation of e-cigarettes compared to traditional tobacco products. While there will most likely be opposition to tobacco products being separated from the FDA’s jurisdiction, there is also a case to be made as the FDA formed with the purpose of regulating food, drugs, and medical supplies rather than tobacco and alternative tobacco products.
Additionally, it could better inform vape manufacturers regarding their advertising and marketing campaigns. If implemented before PMTA, there is a chance that this proposal could change the vape industry product requirements and implementation path, including delaying its implementation altogether since it will now be in a separate department from the FDA. We would like to remind everyone that this is only in the proposal stage and that we will keep you updated on this as the story develops.
At eJuices.co, we support vape shops by providing them with a variety of vape products including both eJuices and hardware to sell to their customers. We also believe that vape shops should take action and encourage their customers to do the same. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact your eJuices.co account manager or sales representative.