Last weeks deeming announcement from the FDA may well have seemed like the best thing that happened to the electronic cigarette industry for a very long time. And perhaps it was. Essentially, the FDA has agreed to introduce a raft of measures that will make it more difficult for children to access electronic cigarettes and will put in place measures that will make manufacturers more responsible when they produce electronic cigarette products.
If things go according to plan, and there is no reason they wouldn’t, the deeming measures could well herald a new dawn for electronic cigarettes and how they are manufactured and sold.
We found an article on E-Cig Advanced that took a fairly different stance on the news. While many electronic cigarette manufacturers have been supportive of the new measures, and have even become excited, this site has looked at the news, and made a kind of distinction that leads to some interesting points. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.
Could e-cigs face a ‘non-ban’?
The first main point we would like to address here is the concern the website has about the nature of the so-called ‘non-ban’ on tobacco cigarette sales online. The article states that the amount of restrictions that are in place for tobacco cigarettes retailers online makes it virtually impossible for them to sell at a profit.
The main issue here is that the FDA last week stated that they were not yet going to make any recommendations regarding Internet sales of electronic cigarettes. And of course that sounds like a very positive measure, because it means that, ostensibly, the FDA is listening to manufacturers and retailers and being considerate about their needs.
The article thinks otherwise. It sees form in this, and points to previous ‘non-bans’ on Internet sales of tobacco cigarettes. The article quotes the following measures that were put in place by the FDA around the tobacco cigarette industry, all of which make it extremely challenging to conduct Internet tobacco cigarette sales:
- Companies must extensively document all sales and show that all state, federal, and local taxes — often for both the origin and the destination — have been paid.
- They cannot use the U.S. postal service in any way, shape, or form to deliver the products.
- They must extensively verify the age of the purchaser both when the purchase is made online and upon delivery of the product to ensure minors aren’t making the purchase or receiving the goods.
- You’d have to be fairly blinkered to not agree here. The sheer amount of documentation and bureaucracy required to sell tobacco cigarettes online is considerable.
The role of science in the e-cig argument
But let’s go back to the FDA and their announcement last week. Perhaps one of the more intriguing quotes was found in the press release the FDA issued to let the world know about their new deeming.
Margaret A Hamburg, the FDA Commissioner, made what we think is an excellent point, one that echoes the feelings and thoughts of many in the e-cig industry.
“Science-based product regulation is a powerful form of consumer protection that can help reduce the public health burden of tobacco use on the American public, including youth.”
It’s the science bit that we like. We completely agree with Hamburg here. If science is used to regulate the manufacture of new e-cig products, it can only be a good thing. And we think that this approach in particular will pre-empt any problems with the Internet.
Electronic cigarettes will need to be thoroughly tested – and equally the process must be designed for Transparency!
As the FDA pushes through it’s new measures, the process will force manufacturers to have their products tested and proven in front of the FDA. While the nature of the test and the requirements is probably something we will never be privy to (though if that is the case, Smokeless NET feels it is a vile injustice and will support movements to make sure the process is as transparent as possible), it does at least mean that the Internet should eventually become a level playing field.
If manufacturers have to prove that their products meet strict requirements, there are 2 major issues at hand – and they arent new concepts. One is money (the big brands and most notably tobacco firms who own most of the industry could become the only players who can afford to ‘prove’ this, and pay to file the paperwork), leaving the other – absolutely expected, centering on children and youth access to ecigs (a insanely baseless claim that only works as it pulls on the heartstrings of the masses) – make no mistake, this is all still likely about money.
If they manage to purchase from the Internet, then there is an issue.
But the FDA has resolutely made it clear that it will do whatever it takes to keep children out of the way of e-cigs. So with stringent testing and the sanctions in place if children are exposed to e-cigs, whatever is sold on the Internet should be of good quality, and effectively ‘permitted’ by the FDA.
We think the FDA testing requirements will lead it in turn to be more ‘lenient’ on Internet e-cig businesses. If the FDA permit the product, there is less likely to be in place the same situation that tobacco cigarettes currently face on the Web.
So an interesting point made in the article, but one we think may be jumping the gun just a little bit. Let’s wait and see. At the moment, we feel that any regulation is good regulation.