Harm Reduction Newsletter, May 19
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Harm Reduction Newsletter

Harm Reduction Newsletter, May 19

Federal News Round-Up

Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s nominee to head the FDA was confirmed on May 9 by the full Senate in a 57-42 vote. In his first remarks to FDA staff on May 15, 2017, Gottlieb made specific reference to tobacco harm reduction saying “We need to have the science base to explore the potential to move current smokers – unable or unwilling to quit – to less harmful products if they can’t quit altogether.”

E-Cigarette manufacturer NJOY with the support of other e-cigarette manufacturers and industry trade associations filed an official citizen petition with the FDA in an attempt to extend compliance deadlines to two years beyond issuance of “final guidance” related to the FDA regulations applying to e-cigarettes and vapor products.

R Street’s Carrie Wade highlights the first U.S. version of the E-Cigarette Summit held in Washington, DC on May 8, 2017. The event replicates an annual series held in London that attempts to bring together divergent voices for dialogue on the public health impacts, emerging science and policy questions related to vapor products and tobacco harm reduction.

State News Round-Up

26 state legislatures are in active session this week. The National Association of Attorneys General held its Spring Consumer Protection Meeting on May 15-17 in Washington, D.C.

California municipalities of Oakland, San Francisco, Contra Costa County, Los Gatos, Palo Alto and San Leandro are all considering legislation pushed by tobacco control advocates that would all in various forms ban or restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products (including e-cigarettes). Flavored cigarettes (with the exception of menthol) are already prohibited under federal law and some of these ordinances would ban or restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes.

Florida House and Senate legislation that would have raised the age of purchase for tobacco products (and e-cigarettes) failed upon adjournment.

New Hampshire legislation that changes the definition of e-cigarettes to include non-nicotine products and considers them tobacco products and subjects them to all relevant sales and licensing provisions under state law received an unfavorable recommendation from the Senate Commerce Committee. While the bill is referred to the full Senate and possibly eligible for passage, the negative recommendation makes it unlikely.

In New York, different bills that would respectively raise the age of purchase for tobacco products and e-cigarettes and prohibit the use of vaping consistent with the state indoor clean air act are moving through both houses of the legislature despite New York having the lowest youth smoking rates in recorded history.

Rhode Island legislation that would require the use of child-resistant packaging for e-cigarette products and e-liquids passed the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee and is eligible for full House consideration.

Texas legislation that had been approved by the House Health Committee and would have raised the age of purchase for tobacco products and e-cigarettes was defeated when it failed to pass the House prior to a crossover deadline.

Washington legislation that prohibits the sale of vapor products from self-service displays and had passed both the House and Senate was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.

Science and Harm Reduction

Sweden’s Karolinska Institute published a study in the International Journal of Cancer that concluding that “Swedish snus use does not appear to be implicated in the development of pancreatic cancer.”

Commenting on the study, Dr. Lars-Erik Rutqvist, professor of oncology and senior VP of scientific affairs for Swedish Match, said the results are “the most significant scientific news on snus since 2001 when the cancer warnings on snus cans [in Sweden] were removed following the dismissal of an association with oral cancer” and that “…the last remaining alarm on Swedish snus …now can be dismissed.”


Writing in National Review online, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research Jeff Stier argues the FDA’s Deeming Rule could be reversed if the Justice Department declines to defend the rule in court. They are currently six lawsuits challenging the deeming rule.

Public health experts signed on to a letter urging members of Congress to support House Resolution 1136, introduced by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.). By updating the predicate date the resolution could “rescue the e-cigarette industry from impending death by-red-tape and protect public health.”


Louisiana’s House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing on House Bill 271 that would more than double the state’s existing tax on e-liquids from 5-cents to 13-cents per milliliter.

What’s Coming Up?

There is still time to register for the Global Forum on Nicotine, Warsaw, Poland. June 15-17, 2017. GFN is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch from smoking. Safer nicotine products include e-cigarettes, oral tobaccos such as Swedish snus, and ‘heat-not-burn’ tobacco products. This year’s theme is ‘Reducing Harm, Saving Lives’ – to draw attention to the potential of safer nicotine products to reduce the global health burden of smoking.

Quotable Quotes

“Based on the current scientific evidence, I fail to see the justification for banning vaping in most public places,” – Dr. Michael Siegel is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health.

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