When it comes to regulating the ecig industry, lawmakers and industry leaders would do well to bring the matter directly to consumers. At V2 headquarters, we decided to do just that. We fielded a survey of more than 600 ecig users on their feelings about regulation, just before the recent FDA e-cigarette ruling. The results are interesting. They highlight the opinions of ordinary Americans and their legitimate concerns with overly strict regulation of a product that many view as a valuable tool in the struggle to quit combustible cigarettes.
Make no mistake, vapers want fair regulation. Of those surveyed, 83% said they would support some kind of regulation for electronic cigarettes. This is the position of our company, as well as most of those interested in the long-term future of vaping. We have long advocated for science-based, responsible product standards to ensure consumer safety and product reliability. We also support the ban of ecig sales to anyone under 18, as established by the new FDA ruling. E-cigarettes are intended for adult smokers, which is why we’ve partnered with the We Card program, to help keep them out of the hands of underage consumers.
However, nearly 60% of vapers polled were against regulation by the federal government – a response likely influenced by the often heavy-handed rules proposed by the FDA. This unfortunate federal posturing was on full display last month. In the face of widespread criticism from industry experts, consumers, scientists and healthcare professionals, the FDA passed rules that contain a burdensome grandfather date clause that would deem every ecig product launched after 2007 (which is virtually every product on the market) a tobacco product which would need the FDA’s approval in order to be sold to consumers.
Thankfully, due to the committed efforts of doctors and researchers who worked to inform legislators and the public of the impact of the restriction, a bipartisan amendment to modify the clause was passed by the House Appropriations Committee. But it still has a long way to go in order to become law.
The bottom line is this: In a market with such new and rapidly improving technology, there is real reason to be wary of a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation, as advocated by the FDA. That may be why 27% of our survey respondents favor a more local approach, involving states or municipalities. Laws that are tailored to specific communities might appeal to vape shop owners and their customers, who don’t operate with a Big Tobacco budget.
An additional 13% of respondents were in favor of the industry self-regulating, a topic we’ve touched on in the past. At V2, we’ve implemented an innovative system of quality control that prioritizes safety and transparency. Regulators and customers are able to access specific batch-test records for the e-liquid we ship, opening up our quality-control to examination and accountability. When it comes to ensuring the reliability and safety of our products, our company and the FDA are aligned.
Ultimately, e-cigarettes are neither tobacco products nor pharmaceuticals. This rapidly changing category is driven by technology and powered by innovation. And it deserves its own separate regulatory framework, not one that’s been force-fit into decades-old legislation pertaining to tobacco, which is an entirely separate industry.
What we’ve seen is that many scientists, businesses, and consumers have a significantly greater foundation of knowledge than the agencies with the power to make the rules. We believe that most regulators don’t understand why people have started vaping, how they vape, and how the industry can move forward productively in a ways that helps everyone. The concerns of regulatory bodies may not always align with the concerns of consumers or the industry, and there will be no solution here without compromise, but it’s crucial that we find an appropriate balance of interests.
Nearly all vapers are former smokers using e-cigarettes as an alternative to combustible tobacco cigarettes. The advocates working against e-cigarettes continue to ignore the needs of those individuals, while the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization spread misinformation that muddles the very significant differences between combustible cigarettes and electronic vaporizers. We need to continue pushing for a science-based approach to this issue that doesn’t eliminate the smallest players in this space. Multiple reliable sources have now shown ecig and vaporizer products to be far less dangerous than smoking tobacco, and the continued conversation on regulation should begin with that sharp contrast.
Here at V2, we’ll continue to champion the objective findings that demonstrate that e-cigarettes are, in fact, much safer than combustible tobacco cigarettes. Check back in with us here for real findings from top researchers and to stay fully in the know.