Altria (Big T) moves to Ban Vapor Flavors

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STATEMENT ON ALTRIA PRESENTATION TO CAGNY
Last week, Howard Willard, Chairman & CEO of Altria Group, Inc., presented to the Consumer Analysts Group of New York (CAGNY). During the presentation, Mr. Willard succinctly described Altria’s planned actions to address the increase in youth experimentation with electronic cigarettes, including:
  “Encourage FDA to take industry-wide action by banning retail and vape store sales of all non-traditional flavors until the youth issue is otherwise addressed, such as by the use of advanced age verification technology or pre-market authorization.”
Altria’s position that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) should ban the sale of all non-traditional flavors at retail and vape shops marginalizes harm reduction and does a disservice to adult smokers seeking lower risk alternatives to cigarettes for several reasons. In particular, (1) scientists have concluded that flavors assist smokers in quitting smoking cigarettes; and (2) current scientific literature demonstrates that flavors play little role in attracting teens to use vapor products. Altria’s view fails to adequately assess the net public health benefits of flavored vapor products and ultimately serves only to harm adult smokers while doing little to solve the concerns around youth usage. 

For these reasons, the Vapor Technology Association (“VTA”) disagrees strongly with the Altria’s planned course of action.

VTA’s Position – Flavors are Essential for Smokers Seeking to Quit Combustible Cigarettes

For the past three years, VTA’s position on vape shops and flavors has been clear and consistent:  Flavor Bans and/or Restrictions are Unwarranted:
Banning or restricting the sale of flavors is the wrong approach. Until science demonstrates otherwise, neither FDA nor any other governmental entity should act to ban or limit the availability and accessibility of flavors on the market to the detriment of adult smokers seeking to quit combustible cigarettes. 
 Appeal of Flavors is Subjective: 
The appeal of particular flavors is subjective and not the reason most youth choose to initiate electronic cigarettes.  Sound science does not support a plan that tries to categorize flavors as offerings which “should” or “should not” be sold.
 Focus Should Be on Prohibiting Inappropriate Marketing of Flavors:
Prohibiting inappropriate marketing should be the focus of efforts to address the increase in youth experimentation with electronic cigarettes.  VTA has introduced legislation in several states to affirmatively impose reasonable marketing restrictions.
 VTA Marketing Standards:
VTA has repeatedly encouraged industry to adopt the VTA Marketing Standards for Membership which would serve to limit both access to and appeal of vapor products to youth.
 Flavors are Critical to Smoking Cessation: 
Adult smokers looking to vapor products as an off-ramp from combustible cigarettes deserve access to a wide variety of flavored products to allow for individualized choice in finding the product that works best for them. VTA presented a clear and unequivocal scientific case to FDA showing that flavors help adult smokers quit. 
 Flavor Bans Directly Threaten Vape Shops:
A decision to ban flavors from brick-and-mortar vape shops, even temporarily, will eliminate over 10,000 small businesses and un-employ tens of thousands of Americans that work for them.  
VTA’s Board of Directors follows the aforementioned principles, and VTA intends to continue to fight for flavors at all levels of government.  Our membership has too much invested in the vape shop and retail store channels to equivocate on these issues and we will challenge any efforts to ban flavors at vape shops and retail stores.

VTA’s Board of Directors is comprised of 16 companies that manufacture, supply, distribute and sell a variety of open and closed system products, including thousands of flavors.  Our policies have always and will remain true to defending all segments of the industry.


– VTA Board of Directors

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