Introducing Dark Hand
Dark Hand is a friend of vaping.com. He will listen to your views. He will say what you think. He will fight for your rights.
Below you will find the first Letter From The Dark Hand. There are also several ways that we would like you to help Dark Hand - see below.
Letter From The Dark Hand
The Fears of Politicians
Politicians are scared of two types of people striding into their offices. There are “the men in grey suits” who tell politicians that their time is up. And then there are “the men in white coats” who tell them about the scientific risks to public health. So when the FDA in Washington and the MHRA in London told their political masters four years ago that e-cigarettes were a great threat to health and had to be banned as “unlicensed medicines” the politicians response was a predictable “yes.” The whole e-cigarette revolution was about to be stamped out before it got rolling. But some judges and senior politicians thought about it a bit more and told the bureaucrats to think again. They did. The considered response of medicinal regulators has been slight of hand. They have recategorised e-cigarettes as tobacco products - tobacco products which need to regulated as if they were medicines.
In both the European Tobacco Products Directive and the FDA’s “deeming” regulations e-cigarettes will have to go through lengthy and costly quasi-medicinal pre-approval processes. And guess what. Tobacco cigarettes won’t need to. If these contortions are not enough there is the mother of all incongruities: so expensive are the regulations that the only companies able to afford the hugely costly compliance processes are… tobacco companies. That’s why many independent e-cigarette companies are selling themselves to tobacco companies.
For the medicinal regulators it’s a little inconvenient that they have to call e-cigarettes “tobacco products” and that they have to deal with tobacco companies. Yet the upside for regulators is that they get the fee income and the control they crave.
To be fair, there is also an upside for vaping. There will be even more widespread availability of cigalike products at tobacco outlets. These products are used by many to either quit or as stepping stones to more complex products. The cigalikes will benefit from heavy investment in better batteries and quality control. We may even eventually have tobacco companies making “medicinally licensed” e-cigarettes that doctors can prescribe on government funded anti-smoking programs. “Medicinally licensed tobacco products” would seem the intellectual construct of a dope head. But the may well help some people to quit.
There is though a very obvious and very large train wreck coming down the tracks. The fastest growth in vaping over the past year has been in the open-tank non-cigalike market. Sold online and through thousands of vape shops these devices dominate the French market and have overtaken cigalikes in America. Tobacco companies may be able to convince the medicinal regulators to approve some open-tank devices. But it’s certain that many vapers will not adopt these products. Many of them despise regulators and tobacco companies with equal passion. They enjoy the home grown DIY element in their personal escape from tobacco. They want variety. And medicines regulators are not good on producing responsive variety.
So let’s roll the video forward to 2016/17 when the regulators in the USA and Europe overnight declare that every single product in the non-tobacco owned open tank market is illegal. How many vapers will be annoyed? These refugees from smoking believe that their products are vastly safer than tobacco and are critical to them staying off smoking. So far the regulatory threat to their products have been in the distant future. When these vapers are confronted by immediate bans their already vocal protests will go into overdrive. They will express outrage at the ethics of heavy product pre-approval regulations being imposed on vaping devices but not on cigarettes. They will question the way that they are supposed to pay more for devices they don’t want so that medicinal regulators and tobacco shareholders can be kept happy.
There are tens of millions of vapers in the USA and Europe. As the to-be-banned user base continues to grow so does the coming political train wreck.
Europe’s MEPs found that when they were considering e-cigarettes in 2013 that vapers are a vocal self-organized community. The MEPs dodged the oncoming train by rejecting the pharma-regulator proposal for compulsory medicinal licensing for all e-cigarettes. How many politicians will want to keep standing on the rails?
We have mid-term elections this Fall in the US. Before the Presidential year of 2016 the UK has its General Election. There is an anti-establishment trend sweeping politics - witness David Brat in Virginia, Nigel Farage in the UK and Marine Le Pen in France. The mainstream parties want to win back the votes they are hemorrhaging. Edging into their thinking is the calculation that shifting policy on e-cigarettes offers a way to reach out to this community. These millions of vaping voters really care about their devices. When it comes to fear, voters are much more scary to politicians than the men in white coats.