Vapor vs FDA Unfair Regs | VTA on Fight to Survive

Fight To Survive

Click here to access and sign on to Letter

VTA Member, Amanda Wheeler of JVAPES E-Liquid and President of the Rocky Mountain Smoke Free Alliance, is taking the lead at a critical time for the vapor industry. She is seeking signatories for a thoughtful letter to the FDA on behalf of small business owners in the vapor industry. But we need your help!

We are calling on all of our small business owners to follow Amanda’s example and sign onto this letter to FDA Center for Tobacco Products Director, Mitchell Zeller. The letter requests a regulatory process that does not kill our industry through an unclear and cost prohibitive PMTA process.

We will be working with Amanda, and our members, setting up a meeting with the FDA to discuss the adoption of a regulation process that will encourage the growth of responsible businesses within the vapor industry instead of the current trajectory of unreasonable demands set to quash numerous small businesses. Please complete the form to add your name to the letter and join the fight.

Become a signatory and pass this petition along to any industry stakeholders who may want to join our cause. Now more than ever we need to take action. Everyone needs to be off of the sidelines during this critical time for our industry.

Thank you for joining the fight!

Tony Abboud

Vapor Technology Association

—- READ THE LETTER —-

Mitchell Zeller
Director
Center for Tobacco Products
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

Dear Mr. Zeller,

We are writing to you today to express our concern for small businesses in the open vapor product industry in regard to the current PMTA guidance. Thousands of small vape shop owners and vapor product manufacturers are on the precipice of extinction. We are facing vague, unattainable regulatory gates and the terrifying threat of regulatory termination of the most impactful tobacco harm reduction products to date. We are being forced to prepare for a future where we will not be able to afford costly and unclear premarket approval, casting small businesses out of the lifesaving industry that we once created. It is our hope that the FDA can convene with our industry representatives to develop a pathway to clear and concise industry regulation that is mutually agreeable.

Current PMTA guidance recommends extensive research into each product, which includes bottle size and nicotine variations, as well as environmental assessments. We are not large corporations that can afford to fund departments devoted to regulatory affairs, science, toxicology, and legal matters, nor do we have millions of dollars to secure these services. We are mostly “mom and pop” small businesses. Many of us started with nothing but a few thousand dollars and a desire to help smokers quit, using the same method we used ourselves. Through hard work, and a firm belief in our mission, we have been able to develop successful small businesses that have not only created job opportunities for thousands of people, but helped countless people quit smoking cigarettes, and even quit using nicotine entirely, for good. This industry was created by thousands of small business owners who exemplify the American Dream—that through dedication and hard work, everyone has the opportunity to be successful. The current PMTA structure may well turn out to be impossible to navigate or comply with, at least to any distinction of consistency and dependability for advancing products and incentivizing improvements.

Thus far, efforts to engage consultants, laboratory services, and legal counsel all seem to produce professional regulatory experts that are just as unclear on how to advance through FDA’s current regulatory structure successfully. This leaves the industry even further confused, and effectively paralyzed, as we consider the risk of potentially spending ourselves out of business – because none of these entities can provide definitive answers to a process that remains completely subjective. The estimated costs given to us by the very services we would need to utilize to achieve adequate PMTA submission, amounting to millions of dollars per SKU, are significantly higher than the FDA’s “average application cost” of $131,643 for initial e-liquid submissions. PMTA guidance, by its very nature, gives the vapor industry a loose understanding of what will and won’t result in approval. These recommendations, combined with high costs for only a potential chance of approval, create an unrealistic paywall to industry compliance.

We are already beginning to see vape shops and vapor product manufacturers shut their doors—the smallest partnerships and family-owned businesses in the industry are steadily beginning to disappear. Some vapor product manufacturers are moving their American-based businesses to more vapor-friendly countries that have clear, attainable regulatory structures. Those manufacturers who do not have the ability to uproot their lives to make such a business move are instead selling their livelihood for pennies on the dollar, rather than risking a total loss when FDA exercises their enforcement discretion. Many members of the open vapor industry are making the difficult decision not to renew leases on the buildings they occupy because the pathway to remain on the market is completely subjective, undefined, and makes compliance extremely difficult, if not impossible. We will continue to see this industry slowly collapse under the heavy burden of the current regulatory framework that is unlike any other and offers no consistent baseline for the industry to follow.

It is clear that the outcome of the current regulatory structure will hand the entire vapor product industry to massive tobacco companies who have a long, sordid, and extremely profitable history of damaging the health and wellbeing of this country. The open vapor industry has and hopefully always will be able to be committed to helping combustible tobacco users transition to a nicotine delivery system that has been proven less harmful by orders of magnitude. We represent a group of businesses prepared to work with the FDA towards reasonable, realistic and sustainable regulations that are attainable for industry participants and more consistent with established and commonplace regulations for other consumable products.

Perhaps our most important concern is that combustible tobacco products, which are clearly and demonstrably harmful to public health, will be allowed to remain on the market in every smoke shop, gas station, grocery store, and convenience store in the country with little more than an age restriction and modest tax as a use deterrent. The only remaining choices Americans will have are combustible tobacco products, big tobacco company owned vapor products, or potentially hazardous, unsafe, and illegal black market products. Not only will these vague and unattainable PMTA guidelines reward tobacco companies for their current and past behavior, but they will also surely undo much of the hard work open vapor product manufacturers, distributors, and resellers have done to help millions of combustible tobacco users transition to safer nicotine delivery systems and even quit nicotine altogether.

Tobacco companies created the distrust that now exists. They also followed our lead into these less harmful alternatives while vilifying our products without factual basis. They have exponentially more resources, lobbyists, and influence, but current realities will give them the harm reduction market that we established and advanced. The current regulatory structure will take this from us and hand deliver it to those companies who created and advanced the harms of combustible cigarettes with no concern for the consequences. Furthermore, the FDA’s own age-of-sale enforcement stings show that youths are not obtaining these products from our industry participants, they obtain them from the tobacco distribution pathways.

So why allow tobacco companies to commandeer this industry when we are the ones who have introduced these products, created this new harm reduction strategy, and are verifiably (by the FDA’s own enforcement evaluations) maintaining youth sales prevention and discouragement?

Our concerns go beyond the loss of our businesses or the added power those losses would hand tobacco companies. We are equally concerned about vapor product manufacturing being handled by irresponsible, potentially dangerous black market entities. These black market entities will have no incentive to ensure that their illegal products follow standardized, unadulterated manufacturing practices. Consumers will unwittingly be put at risk by potentially hazardous and unsafe vapor products.

We understand and respect the FDA’s mandate to ensure reasonable consumer protections. We, the undersigned, are prepared to meet with FDA to cooperate and work together to find mutually satisfactory structures to regulate these products that will provide the requisite consumer protections, and also create a regulatory approach that is defined, clear, and attainable by those industry participants, like us, who are fully prepared to preserve and solidify the harm reduction public health benefits these products are capable of providing.

We hope the FDA will recognize and consider that this industry is different than any other. Most consumable products get introduced by big conglomerates or multinational manufacturers with correlative budgets and regulatory experts. Meanwhile, vapor products are facing regulatory approaches advanced many years after the products were already on store shelves. We acknowledge and respect the difficulties this adds for both the FDA and the industry. We are prepared to work with the FDA to find regulatory frameworks that meet our mutual goals. If we cannot find some realistic, consistent, and compliable common ground, businesses will close, thousands of jobs will be lost, many leases broken, investments lost (some even at life-changing levels) – many may lose their homes, savings, and much more.

We urgently request that you engage with us in a timely manner to navigate an attainable solution for small business owners so that we can reach our common goal: to save the lives of more than 480,000 American adult smokers a year without subjecting a new generation to nicotine addiction.

Article provided by VapeSling LLC

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