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2020 will shape the vaping industry in many ways. While 2019 saw the introduction (and reversal) of flavor bans in various states and their lawmakers introducing legislation to regulate vape, it can only mean one thing: progression towards regulating vape at the federal level. The eLiquid.com team wants you to know that as a vaper and a voter, the power is in YOUR hands to take action and advocate for yourself, your fellow vapers, and the vape industry in general. Here are some things you should know about vape legislation and how it is formed.
Let’s review what we already know about vape legislation. We know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directly regulates vape products. We also know that Dr. Stephen Hahn is the new FDA Commissioner, although his stance on vaping is unclear other than his statement on following the “science and evidence” on vaping. Recently, the smoking age has also been raised to 21 nationwide starting in 2020, although almost half of all states had raised the minimum smoking age before that.
Another thing we know is the premarket tobacco application (PMTA) deadline is coming up in May 2020. This could be extended under Dr. Hahn’s tenure, but as of this writing, nothing is known yet. Who really decides vape legislation, you might ask? While there are efforts at the local and state level, we know that vape products are regulated by the FDA itself. The FDA can make recommendations, but it is unable to create or repeal laws. Congress is where laws are made (or repealed). Several states have already introduced their own laws on vape, such as floor taxes and flavor bans. One of the states affected by taxation is the eLiquid.com offices here in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The House of Representatives is the lower house of Congress. They have a very unique power in that they are able to create bills that raise revenue. This is an interesting point that we must raise. The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) , which we discussed on a previous blog post, was an agreement between the states and tobacco companies. Many states took out tobacco bonds against future cigarette sales, believing it to be a perpetual source of income. However, cigarette smoking drastically declined. Vaping, on the other hand, has risen among adults who are seeking a safer alternative. There may be a pathway for state governments to regain the funds lost from the MSA by introducing legislation that generates revenue from taxing vape products.
The Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, which is under the Appropriations Committee, is the subcommittee that oversees the FDA. The chair of this subcommittee is Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) serving as vice-chair, and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) serving as the ranking member of this subcommittee. The FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, yet these members of Congress are closest to creating any bill or amendment that would tax vape products or ban flavors on a federal level. Rep. DeLauro introduced H.R. 293 , or the Youth Vaping Prevention Act of 2019, in an attempt to put further restrictions on flavors.
The Appropriations Committee itself is chaired by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), with the ranking member being Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX). Lowey, much like her Senate counterpart, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), is another fierce critic of the vaping industry. In a press release on November 18, 2019 , Lowey said, “Leaving any flavored products on shelves is irresponsible...it has created an uphill battle, I fear, for at least a generation to come, with unknown long-term costs to public health and to the American economy.” There is agreement among both legislators and the vaping industry that vape products should not be in the hands of minors. However, where there is disagreement is banning flavors. Many adult vapers have credited flavors to help them switch to vaping. This could unintentionally hurt adult vapers who enjoy these flavors.
We previously covered here on eLiquid.com Sen. Durbin’s fierce and aggressive approach to vaping. The Senate has a similar subcommittee with the same name: the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) leads this committee, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is the ranking member of this subcommittee. What makes this subcommittee more interesting is that there is a “Who’s Who” of politics in this subcommittee: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) all serve on this subcommittee as well. All have been in the Senate for a very long time. Leahy has served since 1975 and is currently the longest-serving Senator, McConnell has served since 1985, and Feinstein has served since 1992.
Let’s take a closer look at McConnell, as he is also the Senate Majority Leader. McConnell’s track record shows that he has been favorable to the tobacco industry . Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds called McConnell a “special friend.” McConnell himself has also been very vocal about his support for the industry. “Farming tobacco put shoes on kids’ feet. It put dinner on the table,” he said. Tobacco lobbyists have even gotten a personal guarantee from McConnell before. “Please feel free to call me whenever I may be of assistance to you,” he said. Due to his role as Senate Majority Leader and being on this specific subcommittee, he will have a major influence on vaping policy in the future as the pressure mounts on the vape industry.
Continue to take action—2020 is an election year, so make sure you keep calling your representatives, Senators, and the White House. You now have an idea of who is closest to vaping legislation in Congress. Tell your elected officials how flavors and access to vaping products are important to you. Remember, we cannot do it without you—so take action today!
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