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70,000 is a lot of comments

70,000 is a lot of comments

The Hill reports that 72,000 comments were submitted to the FDA in its feedback period for the deeming regulations on electronic cigarettes. Of course the bulk of this large number consisted of suggestions made by thousands of vapers around the US, organized by CASAA, the AVA, and local vaping organizations.

The Hill dutifully reports the opposition of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Campaign for Smoke-Free Kids and other opponents, and lists some of their poorly informed reasons. The article does not mention the briefs of health advocacy groups pushing for harm reduction, who favor a light regulation recognizing the health benefits of vaping, and promoting the advantages of innovation in the industry by independent (non-Big-Tobacco) companies.

Among proponents of freedom to vape, The Hill gives a light nod to CASAA, quoting the primary citizen activist group on the issue to the effect that " there is ample reason to believe the net public health effects (of the rule) will be negative." But the article mentions none of the other many citizen vaper groups advocating for harm reduction.

Alas, The Hill does note the support of Lorillard, the only e-cig industry brief mentioned, and incorrectly cites a "40% share of the market" as a supposedly implicit justification for mentioning it as a market leader. This passes along the outrageous assumption that Big Tobacco somehow represents the vaping industry and the vapers' community. And it is incorrect, to boot. Lorillard does not have any share of the vaping supplies market any longer, having sold its market leader Blu to the highest bidder, Britain's Imperial Tobacco, leaving only offerings of Lorillard's new master, its neighbor Reynolds, and cancer-stick megalith Altria, scrapping for dominance in the Big-Tobacco-produced e-cig category in the US.

Lorillard's supposed market leadership on the US e-cig scene is not only incorrect, but offensive to most experienced vapers, and it comes in for a lambasting in the comments section of the Hill's article. For a Lorillard spokesperson to say that e-cigs "hold the potential to advance the public health dramatically by moving existing users of conventional tobacco products to lower risk options" is viewed as hypocritical cynicism by vapers, since the same companies continue to market the flagging "higher risk options", but now wish to recoup losses by selling the antidote to their poisons.

The "Comments" section of the article in The Hill abounds with hostility to Big Tobacco, as in a comment like this one: "e-cigs (And by e-cigs I mean "vaping" not the big tobacco e-cigs) are the best option to quit smoking." Or how about: "It has a 40% share of the declining 'cigalike' market, and has zero product in the burgeoning non-tracked distribution stream of online sales and dedicated vapestores (of which there are now 14,000 in the US." Or this: "Vapers are just as mad at tobacco companies as non-smokers are. Maybe 'cause... we're non-smokers too. The FDA is backing tobacco companies and leaving vapers in the dust." Another notes that, since the tobacco section of the FDA is funded by fees paid by cigarette companies, it would be appropriate to view them as employees of Big Tobacco. 

If stiff regulations are imposed, the FDA will have a lot of angry people on its hands, along with a few happy Big Tobacco execs. 

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