Nicotine and Harm Reduction Newsletter – May 18, 2018
© Aliaksandr Barouski |

Harm Reduction Newsletter

Nicotine and Harm Reduction Newsletter – May 18, 2018

Federal Updates

Attempts to amend the FY 2019 Agricultural Appropriations bill to include language from H.R. 1136, otherwise known as the Cole-Bishop Amendment, which would’ve changed the predicate date for vapor products, failed on a vote of 29-20. Two Democrats supported the amendment and one Republican voted against it. However, other parts of Cole-Bishop were adopted, including a change in the predicate date for cigars and pipe tobacco from February 15, 2007, to April 2014.

“Without these changes put forward by my amendment, the FDA effectively is making it more difficult for vapor products to the come to the market than cigarettes, even though Public Health England, the British version of our Department of Health and Human Services, published a report stating that vapor is 95 percent less harmful than a cigarette,” said Rep. Tom Cole.

Sen. Chuck Schumer wrote to the Food and Drug Administration demanding an immediate ban on “kid-friendly” e-cigarette flavors. Schumer singled out the alleged the popularity of Juul among high-school students as a particular cause for concern. The press release accompanying Schumer’s letter also claimed, without a reference, that “millions of kids are now addicted” to e-cigarettes.

In the Washington Examiner, Reason’s Guy Bentley highlighted the juxtaposition of Sen. Schumer’s demand for a ban on e-cigarette flavors, which have been documented to help adult smokers quit, with his recent support for marijuana legalization. In The Wall Street Journal, the American Enterprise Institute’s Sally Satel argued Schumer is contributing to a moral panic that is threatening to obscure the lifesaving potential of e-cigarettes.

State Updates

The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted in support of a bill to raise the age of purchase for tobacco and vapor products to 21, ban the sale of tobacco and vaping products in stores with pharmacies, ban vaping wherever smoking is banned, and require child-resistant packaging for all e-liquid products. The bill will now progress to the Senate where it expected to pass.

The Vermont Legislature passed a 46 percent wholesale tax on all liquid-containing vapor products. The American Vaping Association predicts Vermont politicians will attempt to raise the tax next year to 92 percent or higher.

Science and Harm Reduction

Editors of the journal Pediatrics are being accused of misconduct in an ongoing dispute sparked by a letter from Dr. Brad Rodu challenging a paper produced by Benjamin Chaffee, Stanton Glantz, and Shannon Lea Watkins. The paper claimed vaping causes adolescents who experimented with cigarettes to become regular smokers. Rodu, along with his colleague Nantaporn Plurphanswat, reproduced Chaffee’s analysis controlling for lifetime cigarette consumption and found the study’s conclusions were not supported by the data. Rodu submitted a comment to Pediatrics arguing the paper should be retracted. His comment, however, was not published until two weeks after submission by which time Pediatrics had solicited a response from Chaffee, et al, accusing Rodu of using a “statistical trick” to undermine their conclusions and that Rodu had undisclosed financial ties to Big Tobacco. Harm reduction advocates Clive Bates, David Abrams and Ray Niaura submitted a comment in support of Rodu.

Chaffee’s first response to Rodu was deleted by the editors and a new response from Chaffee was posted in its stead with the posting date from the original response. The editors did not note any change to the post. The dispute has been covered in Rodu’s personal blog, as well as by Carl Phillips at the Daily Vaper and the American Vaping Association.


The D.C. Council approved an amendment proposed by former Mayor and Ward 7 Council member Vince Gray that would raise the cigarette tax by $2 per pack. The tax would also raise D.C.’s already high e-cigarette tax and could destroy the few remaining vape shops left in the District.


The FDA sent a second round of official requests for information to four e-cigarette manufacturers requiring them to submit documents to related to “product marketing, documents related to research on product design (as it may relate to the appeal or addictive potential for youth, youth-related adverse experiences) and consumer complaints associated with the products.” The companies have until July 12, 2018, to respond. The letters follow a similar request sent to Juul Labs, last month.

Quotable Quotes

“If the choice is between getting addicted to nicotine and dying from cigarettes or getting addicted without dying from e-cigarettes, the answer is obvious,” — David B. Abrams of New York University’s College of Global Public Health

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