Nicotine and Harm Reduction Newsletter – June 1, 2018
© Milkos | Dreamstime.com

Harm Reduction Newsletter

Nicotine and Harm Reduction Newsletter – June 1, 2018

Federal Updates

The deadline for submitting comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for the regulation of tobacco product flavors and a new tobacco product standard for levels of nicotine in combustible cigarettes is just a few weeks away.

The FDA’s (ANPRM) for a reduced nicotine standard could apply to other combustible tobacco products such as roll-your-own tobacco, little and premium cigars, as well as combustible cigarettes. The deadline is June 14. The ANPRM regarding flavored tobacco products covers smokeless tobacco, combustible cigarettes, cigars and electronic nicotine delivery systems, and the deadline for comment submission is June 19.

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) wrote to high school and middle school superintendents in Illinois requesting information on student vaping. This follows the continuing media controversy surrounding the alleged popularity of Juul among minors. At Vaping360, Jim McDonald documents recent demands by Democratic senators for tighter regulation of e-cigarettes and bans on so-called “kid-friendly” e-liquid flavors.

There was extensive coverage of “World No Tobacco Day” which was created by the World Health Organization in 1987 and falls on May 31. Writing in the Washington Examiner, Julie Gunlock, director of the Center for Progress and Innovation at the Independent Women’s Forum, argues anti-smoking philanthropist Michael Bloomberg should be celebrating rather than opposing innovative nicotine products like e-cigarettes, which are safer than smoking and help smokers quit.

​​​​State Updates

The Illinois House of Representatives voted to raise the age of purchase for cigarettes and vapor products from 18 to 21 by a 61-49 margin. The bill will go to the governor’s desk, where it will almost certainly be signed.

In a special session, Vermont legislators proposed a bill that would impose a 46 percent wholesale tax on vapor products, the proceeds of which would go to the state’s General Fund for the fiscal year 2019.

Science and Harm Reduction

A study published in Tobacco Control concludes that a ban on flavored e-cigarettes alone would increase the choice of combustible cigarettes in smokers. The authors argue a ban on menthol cigarettes would be more effective in limiting the choice of cigarettes but a ban on flavors in both combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes would probably reduce smoking and vaping rates, “but smoking would be higher than in the status quo.”

Taxation

The District of Columbia Council voted 10-2 to raise the cigarette tax from $2.50 per pack to $4.50 per pack, higher than any state-wide cigarette tax in the nation. The tax would also apply to e-cigarettes, which according to Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association could raise the city’s vapor tax to more than 90 percent of the wholesale price.
​​​​​​
Regulation

San Francisco residents will vote next week on Proposition E, which would ban all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes and e-cigarette flavors.

Chicago Alderman Ed Burke introduced legislation to ban flavored nicotine cartridges for e-cigarettes. “Prohibiting the sale of flavored vaping products won’t save any lives, but it may stop people currently addicted to cigarettes from switching to less-harmful alternatives or even kicking the nicotine habit,” said Heartland Institute research fellow Jesse Hathaway.

At Creators.com, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center Veronique de Rugy argues the FDA should stick to its plan to postpone premarket tobacco product application deadlines until 2022 and create a less burdensome approval process for vapor products. “This kind of permissionless innovation approach gave us the internet and many other lifesaving and growth-producing inventions. This time, it might very well deliver the biggest lifesaving opportunity we have had in some time, as long as the FDA doesn’t get in the way,” writes de Rugy.

Quotable Quotes

“It’s a preposterous notion that a government that can’t efficiently deliver the mail or run trains on time — and is a direct cause of cancer drug shortages — can deliver a risk- and nicotine-free world.” — Veronique de Rugy

What’s Coming Up

The fifth Global Forum on Nicotine will be held in Warsaw, Poland, June 14-16. Registration is now open.

Additional Resources

Comment to FDA on Modified Risk Tobacco Product Application

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

Guy Bentley is director of consumer freedom \associate at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.