Kat York, co-owner of Boosted E-Juice, the Colorado-based company that creates vape-juice flavors, is going to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with Colorado representatives and fight for a change in vaping regulations.
The vaping industry could cease to exist by August 2018 if regulations do not change. The FDA's current standards will ban 99 percent of all vaping products by that date, in accordance with language in the 2009 Tobacco Control Act that requires any product produced after February 15, 2007, to submit equivalence applications. These applications are so expensive, critics say, that they will result in businesses across the industry being forced to close.
York says her biggest concern about the FDA regulations focuses on the Pre-Market Tobacco Application. "The PMTA was designed to keep products like new cigarettes and all kinds of traditional tobacco off the market by making it so hard to get approved," she says. "In effect, it means new tobacco products wouldn't be on the market."
The current FDA regulations put vaping products under the same umbrella as tobacco products. Any product created before 2007 is grandfathered in, but any produced after that date could be discontinued. Since vaping technology has exploded over the last decade, the entire industry could cease to exist.
York says it's imperative that legislators understand the differences in smoking cigarettes versus vaping from a health perspective.
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"It's like if you're at a campfire and you're inhaling particulate matter and debris, versus someone using a hot plate in their kitchen. The experience of what you're breathing in is totally different," York says. "To us, it's very surprising when a regulator says that any legislation that was aimed at preventing some harm for cigarettes should automatically be applied to vapor products."
York cites multiple studies done in Europe, particularly the "Royal College of Physicians Report," a 200-page document. English researchers concluded that the government should not enact harsh regulations on vapor products, and instead should encourage switching from cigarettes to vapor products as a harm- reduction alternative.
This isn't the first time that England has beat the United States to the punch in revising smoking standards. The Royal College of Physicians came out against smoking cigarettes years before the U.S. Surgeon General first acknowledged the dangers in 1964.
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"In the U.K., the government has to pay for health care, so if something is going to make their population less likely to get cancer, then they might be more honest," York says. "If you're going to do one, do the one that's less harmful."
By perpetuating the myth that vaping products are not dissimilar from nicotine or tobacco, York says our government is complicit in creating health issues for U.S. citizens.
"Our regulators have blood on their hands," she says. "I know that's dramatic, but if a current cigarette smoker switches from smoking cigarettes to using vape products without ever smoking cigarettes anymore, their likelihood of illness and death is much lower.
"For us, that's significant."