The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering bringing e-cigarettes into the “over-the-counter regulatory pathway.” Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the move would give FDA more tools to examine both the toxicology of e-cigarettes and whether they or not they promote smoking cessation.
FDA also issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to address the role of flavors in tobacco products and is calling for input on the role flavors play in both tobacco initiation and cessation. “We’re proceeding with the utmost caution by securing more information about both the potential positives and negatives of flavors in youth initiation and getting adult smokers to quit or transition to potentially less harmful products,” Gottlieb said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Several public health groups are suing the FDA for delaying the deadline for pre-market tobacco applications (PMTA) for cigars and e-cigarettes. The groups which include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Truth Initiative claim the deadline delay allows flavored tobacco products that allegedly target children to remain on the market. The deadline delay is widely seen by the e-cigarette industry as a lifeline that prevented the vast majority of vapor products being withdrawn from the market in 2018.
Commenting on the lawsuit, Kenneth Warner, emeritus professor of public health at the University of Michigan, told BuzzFeed News: “You’re guaranteeing you’re going to kill off all the novel products and we’re going to once again be favoring the cigarette which is by far the most deadly of all tobacco products.” He added, “there is this enormous anxiety in the public health community about e-cigarettes leading kids to smoke — we don’t know that that’s true.”
Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission voted in favor of an amendment that would ban vaping indoor workplaces. The proposal will move onto drafting and will have to pass a final vote of the commission before being put on the ballot in November.
Rhode Island’s House Finance Committee heard testimony on Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to include vapor products in the definition of “other tobacco products” and introduce an 80 percent tax on the wholesale price of e-cigarettes.
New York’s FY 2019 budget, which is due on April 1, includes a proposal that would enact a new tax on vapor products that could be anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of the wholesale price.
Science and Harm Reduction
Raising the minimum legal purchase age for tobacco products in New York City did not accelerate declines in youth smoking, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicines attempted to determine whether e-cigarette use after hospital discharge is associated with subsequent tobacco abstinence among smokers who plan to quit. The headline of accompanying press release said: “e-cigarettes hamper smoking cessation.” The study’s conclusions, however, do not show this to be the case. Commenting on the study, Professor Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said: “The study just shows that smokers who did not manage to stop smoking with recommended treatments may have been more likely to try e-cigarettes than those who quit successfully. This provides no information on whether e-cigs help smokers quit or not.”
According to a study published in Tobacco Control, daily e-cigarette users were more likely to quit smoking or reduce their smoking compared with those who did not use e-cigarettes. “These results suggest incorporating frequency of e-cigarette use is important for developing a more thorough understanding of the association between e-cigarette use and cigarette cessation,” said the study’s authors.
The Tax Foundation’s Scott Drenkard produced a map of where vapor taxes stand in each state as of January 1, 2018. According to Drenkard, eight states and the District of Columbia levy a statewide excise tax on vapor, while three states are home to localities that are starting to apply excise taxes to vapor products.
“There’s no particular reason to think that smokers will be happier with denatured tobacco than drinkers have been with weak beer,” J.D. Tuccille
What’s Coming Up
The fifth Global Forum on Nicotine will be held in Warsaw, Poland, June 14-16. Registration is now open.