Harm Reduction Newsletter

Harm Reduction Newsletter, March 24

Federal News Round-Up

The Reason Foundation submitted a comment to the FDA Thursday urging the agency to withdraw a proposed rule that would set new standards for trace amounts of a chemical in smokeless tobacco. The rule is based on flawed risk analysis, could increase smoking and the economic harms associated with it far exceed any potential benefits.

President Trump nominated Scott Gottlieb to head the FDA on March 10. A resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute there’s reason to believe Gottlieb understands the potential of tobacco harm reduction and recognizes the dangers of the more ideologically zealous parts of the public health movement who more concerned with prohibition and abstinence than saving lives and consumer choice.

Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA) introduced HR 1136 February 16, which would alter the predicate data in FDA regulations for vapor products to when they were deemed tobacco products.

Consumer and industry groups signed a joint letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), March 8 urging passage of HR 1136.

State News Round-Up

45 legislatures are now in session. Eighteen have already introduced legislation to increase cigarette taxes, 8 have proposed increasing taxes on smokeless tobacco and 12 are considering new taxes on vapor products. Vaping bans have been proposed in 7 states and 21 are proposing to raise the age of purchase for tobacco and vapor products. One state has proposed banning flavors in vapor products.

The Hawaii Ways & Means Committee passed legislation that would enact a 70 percent wholesale tax on vapor products. The bill is now eligible for full Senate consideration.

After successfully challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s onerous law regulating vapor businesses, the industry is supporting legislation that removes many of the previous requirements. The bill nearly unanimously passed the Senate and has been referred to the Indiana House.

In a 69-13 vote, the Kentucky House passed a joint resolution to withdraw the FDA’s proposed NNN rule related to smokeless tobacco. The resolution now goes to the Senate where it has been referred to the Agriculture Committee.

Science and Harm Reduction

Healthcare providers in New York City have written to the Commissioner of New York Public Health March 8 to voice their concerns regarding his recent letter encouraging providers to “discourage..use of e-cigarettes.”

Data from the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics shows a substantial drop in smoking prevalence between 2012 and 2015. Head of Lifestyle Economics as the Institute of Economic Affairs Christopher Snowdon argues vaping not strong tobacco control policies are the best explanation for the decline.

Regulation

The Heritage Foundation released a report on 24 Feb recommending reform to the 2009 Tobacco Control Act to eliminate pre-market tobacco product application requirements and put harm reduction front and center of federal tobacco policy.

The New Jersey Assembly Health Committee by a 7-2 vote passed a bill that would ban most flavored vapor products. The bill was referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The Heartland Institute held an event on how government regulation can kill innovation in the vapor space. The full event can be watched here.

Taxation

New taxes on vapor products are being considered in fourteen states including Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont.

Two states that already tax vapor products, Minnesota and Pennsylvania are considering reducing their dysfunctional wholesale vapor taxes.

What’s Coming Up?

The 71st Tobacco Science Research Conference added a special session to its September 17-20 conference in Bonita Springs, FL entitled “Tobacco Product Standard for N-nitrosonornicotine Level in Finished Smokeless Tobacco Products.” Abstract submissions are being accepted until May 26, 2017.

Quotable Quotes

“Most anti-tobacco and health organizations or agencies are unwilling to, or uninterested in, correcting their misinformation.” – Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health.

“Neo-prohibition has failed. Let’s hear it for the free market.” – Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Additional Resources

The World Health Organization’s Opposition to Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Threat to Public Health?
The Vapour Revolution: How Bottom-Up Innovation Is Saving Lives

Guy Bentley is the director of consumer freedom research at Reason Foundation. Bentley's research focuses on the taxation and regulation of nicotine, tobacco, alcohol, and food.