Are the Deeming Regulations Coming Soon?

    Washington insiders expect the long-awaited rules to drop any day


    We could see the FDA’s deeming regulations announced any day now. Rumors swirled this week in Washington, and vaping advocates are on edge.

    Jeff Stier, Risk Analysis Director at the National Center for Public Policy Research, thinks the regulations are imminent. And he isn’t pleased about what’s coming. “The regulation would have the effect, intended or not, of taking e-cigarettes away from former smokers who quit smoking by using these less harmful alternatives,” Stier said in a press release from the Center.

    The Grandfather Date

    The fear is that the FDA will force every product released after the February 2007 “grandfather date” to go through a burdensome and expensive Premarket Tobacco Application process. The FDA insists that it has no leeway to avoid the grandfather date, and that its regulations must follow that requirement.

    That process will likely be too expensive for independent vapor product manufacturers, which will effectively hand the e-cig market to the tobacco industry companies that are able to afford it. The grandfather date was conceived before e-cigarettes became popular. It was intended to stifle change and innovation in the combustible cigarette market.

    Will Big Tobacco win?

    Cigarette Money

    The Vapor Technology Association’s Tony Abboud addressed the problem in a press release. “The FDA will kill nearly a decade of innovation in the vapor technology industry and the many thousands of small and mid-size businesses in communities across this country who have invested in establishing retail stores and developing new technologies that sit outside of the influence of Big Tobacco.”

    Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — a vocal opponent of vapor products — is eager to see the regulations. “I do believe they will come out this month,” he said in an interview with The Hill. “They are facing a serious deadline given the end of the presidential year.”

    Meanwhile, Wells Fargo tobacco industry analyst Bonnie Herzog suggested the deeming regulations might be a blessing in disguise for investors. Her guidance for Big Tobacco stockholders noted that “regulation of the e­cig/vapor industry is broadly positive for the big tobacco manufacturers since it will increase the barriers to entry and likely entrench them even further.”

    In other words, strict e-cig regulations will set up Big Tobacco to take over the vapor business — exactly the outcome vaping advocates have warned about for years.

    Jim McDonald
    Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy