Top Washington Newspaper gives Conley Hearing
A revered news source in the US capital has given vaping activist Greg Conley the stage for a new year's message of signal importance. Washington's online and print newspaper The Hill published Conley's op ed piece pointing out that proposed regulations on vaping supplies would effectively serve Big Tobacco's interests by wiping out its competition, and make vaping a support for the continuation of smoking, rather than a tool for abolishing it.
Nothing in Conley's editorial will surprise vapers. It's a story the community knows well. But it could serve an important educational role for legislators accustomed to biased spin from Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and San Francisco's campus of the University of California system, both of which seem unaware that they are proposing a multi-billion dollar gift to the makers of Marlboros and Camels. Not to mention a death sentence to a verifiable percentage of would-be ex-smokers.
The regulation threatens to stifle a fast-growing, U.S.-based, industry that is establishing a track record of selling products that help smokers transition away from cigarettes” says Conley. “In the process, these costly and burdensome rules would turn the vapor market, which is now currently served by thousands of independent and family-owned businesses, over to companies that have long exhibited a lack of regard for public health – Big Tobacco.”
The prominent vaping advocate, formerly legal affairs consultant for CASAA and now head of his own newly-founded American Vaping Association, explains for an unenlightened public and legislative community the difference between “cigalikes” -- e-cigarettes that strive to imitate lethal smokes – and open vaping systems, which aren't really e-cigs at all. He notes that Big Tobacco still specializes in cigalikes, which it started making only a few years ago, after an initial 5-year period of opposition. Open vapor systems are the product of choice for most seasoned vapers, and they are still made by community-based companies of modest size.
Big Tobacco – basically we are talking about 2 companies, Altria of Richmond, Virginia, which makes Marlboros, and Camels-maker R.J. Reynolds of the North Carolina triad cities, recently merged with its neighbor and erstwhile competitor, Lorillard, which makes the menthol brand Newports. Both companies now produce a cigalike, MarkTen and Vuse respectively. And they have quite simply asked the Food and Drug Administration to demolish their competition by outlawing open-vapor systems. Astonishingly, the FDA seems inclined to entertain the crass request.
The FDA is already entertaining measures that would effectively do the same thing. If proposed “deeming” regulations are implemented in the form under consideration, the price tag on staying in business would be much higher than the modestly-sized open-vapor companies could afford. Everyone except Big Tobacco would be wiped off the field, vapers would be left without their favorite smoking-cessation tool, and smoking would be saved, thanks to the agency entrusted with protecting the public from harmful products like cigarettes.
Hopefully the legislators will heed Conley's appeal. Unfortunately, the battle in Congress looks to be shaping up as a partisan contest, in the midst of an ugly partisan atmosphere. Republicans, who tend to favor business interests, are lining up behind a measure to ease the certification process for new tobacco products, while Democrats, who usually support regulation, are advocating a cigarette classification for e-cigarettes, under the provisions of a 1997 ruling. How ironic that the Democrat advocates of regulation, the opponents of unshackled business interests, are pushing for a gift to the most outrageously abusive industry, and verifiable harm to the public.
Perhaps the President, a successful smoking-quitter who chews nicotine gum, will weigh in. Hopefully for the public and against Big Tobacco.