Harm Reduction Newsletter

Harm Reduction Newsletter, July 14

Federal News Round-Up

In addition to Cole-Bishop language, section 753 of the FY 2018 House Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes a newly added obligation for Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration to issue rules for vapor products “characterizing flavors.” Nita Lowey (D-New York) introduced an amendment that would have struck section 753 from the bill. Lowey made a number of misleading claims regarding the extent to which youth are using e-cigarettes, the role of flavors, the presence of formaldehyde in e-cigarettes, and the FDA’s ability to regulate the products should section 753 be passed. The amendment was defeated 31-21.

FDA stopped accepting comments on its proposed NNN standards for smokeless tobacco products Monday, July 10. Reason Foundation submitted a comment requesting that the FDA abandon the proposed rule that threatens to ban U.S. smokeless tobacco products and could actually harm, rather than benefit public health.

State News Round-Up

Nine state legislatures are meeting actively this week plus District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Delaware’s legislature passed and the Governor signed a new state budget that includes a new 5-cents per milliliter tax on vapor products, a 5-cent per pack tax increase on cigarettes and an increase in the tax on other tobacco products.

The Oregon Legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation that raises the age of purchase for tobacco (and vapor) products to age 21.

Pennsylvania’s House Finance Committee approved legislation that changes the existing 40 percent wholesale tax on vapor products to one that would tax the products at 5-cents per milliliter. When the 40 percent vapor tax was passed last year, more than 150 Pennsylvania small vapor businesses were forced to close their doors. The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee.

The Rhode Island Senate approved legislation requiring child resistant caps for e-liquid. The House approved a previous version of the bill.

Science and Harm Reduction

R Street Institute published a comment by senior fellow Dr. Joel Nitzkin critiquing a meta-analysis examining the initial use of e-cigarettes and subsequent cigarette smoking among adolescents and young adults. Nitzkin argues the nine studies share the same errors in data and analysis, leading to inappropriate conclusions:

“These studies did not differentiate one-time or occasional use from consistent daily use. None compared smoking at follow-up in e-cigarette experimenters with kids who had experimented with or otherwise used cigarettes at baseline,” writes Nitzkin. “Such a comparison would have reflected rates of smoking at follow-up in these same populations, had e-cigarettes not been available.”

Regulation

Clive Bates and David Sweanor submitted a comment of the FDA’s proposed NNN rule for smokeless tobacco. Bates and Sweanor urge the FDA to withdraw the rule. “Instead of pursuing damaging interventions on the lowest-risk tobacco products, FDA should redeploy its resources to encourage and facilitate smokers to switch to low-risk alternatives to cigarettes such as smokeless tobacco, heated tobacco products, and vapor technologies,” Bates and Sweanor argue.

Taxation

The Tax Foundation released a map showing where state and local vapor taxes stand today. It also cautions states and localities of the negative externalities that could stem from vapor taxes.

What’s Coming Up?

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will hold its 44th annual meeting on July 19-21 in Denver, Colorado.

Registration should open soon for the 71st Tobacco Science Research Conference on September 17-20 in Bonita Springs, Florida.

The Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum will be held September 12-14 in New York City.

Quotable Quotes

“In the case of banning e-cigarette flavors, evidence indicates it would have little to no effect on teen e-cigarette use but may have potentially catastrophic consequences for adult smokers,”- Michelle Minton, Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Additional Resources

The Proposed Tobacco Product Standard for NNN Level in Smokeless Tobacco Should Be Withdrawn
The World Health Organization’s Opposition to Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Threat to Public Health?
The Vapor Revolution: How Bottom-Up Innovation Is Saving Lives
Reason’s Research and Analysis of Nicotine and Vapor Issues