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Vaping 2015 To The Future - Changes In Law & Culture

While the concept of vaping can be traced back to the 1930s, it didn't reach its adolescent phase until sometime between 2010 and 2015. Why is it the teenage years you ask? Simple - it was during these years that vaping truly began to grow as a movement, and make advancements in technology. The beginning of 2015 marks a point when vaping finally reached adulthood, knew what it wanted to do with its life, and chose a college. 2015 brought a streamlined approach from pro-vape groups in the legal front, which has only now started to result in tangible advancements for the legal state of vaping. As we continue the walk down memory lane, let’s jump back in time to the not so distant past, 2015.

2015: Advancements and The Battle of the FDA

The new year was greeted by a push from from CASAA, with the group creating a new website dedicated to tobacco harm reduction success stories. The website continues to provide a voice to individuals who have been positively impacted by the vaping industry, and who have used vaping as a means of smoking cessation. The opportunity to tell their stories on the website has given people the freedom to take a stand on a national level, while receiving calls to action, and access to petition campaigns. With the legal actions that would come in 2015 and the years following, the CASAA webpage became crucial in the fight for vaping rights.

The following month, the Center for Environmental Health announced that it was taking legal action against 19 companies for their alleged California Proposition 65 violations. These 19 companies were accused of selling e-cigs and e-juice without proper warning labeling, labels that are required under California law. The nonprofit watchdog group of CEH noted their concern for nicotine levels, as well as formaldehyde and other cancer causing agents. The overall goal of the CEH's legal action was to pressure the e-cigarette industry into conforming to current standards presented by California law.

In May, Indiana passed HB 1432 which prohibited e-juice manufacturers from selling products to retailers and distributers located in Indiana without a permit. These permits would place burdens on retailers and require them to jump through hoops to meet nearly impossible standards, including security certification through a vendor who refused service to nearly all applicants. In response, two out-of-state vendors, and one in-state, filed a federal lawsuit. This prohibition caused dramatic decreases in sales and gave the government de facto control over the e-juice industry, causing huge losses for vape shop owners. Since the passage of HB 1432 the state was forced to backtrack, allowing Indiana shop owners to once again sell e-juice at a reasonable price from a variety of vendors.

Looking abroad, Public Health England announced the results of their expert independent review, which concluded that not only are e-cigarettes less harmful than cigarettes, that they can be helpful in aiding smoking cessation. While the study took place in England, this independent review would prompt additional discussion in the United States and encourage deeper research that could be used to help continue the fight for vaping rights. Such research could also be used in US court cases surrounding the regulation of vaping, and the need for access to lesser harm alternatives.

Jumping back to the United States, the FDA issued a proposed rule regarding the classification of e-cigarettes, which would impact how they will be regulated. These so-called "deeming regulations" from September 2015 were met with multiple filed comments by CASAA, Smokefree Pennsylvania, and Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association. The classification of e-cigs had been debated up to this point and was a major topic for not only government officials, but businesses as well. The way vapes are classified would impact where one could vape, how often they could vape on company time, and where they could purchase vapes and e-juice.

The Final Deeming Regulations for this proposed rule were delivered by the FDA to the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. During that same month of October, eleven Senators released a letter to the OIRA. This letter urged the OIRA to push their investigations so that a decision could be reached more quickly, as it had been dragging on. In December, CASAA would submit a 57-page letter which reported the devastating effects FDA regulation could have on electronic cigarettes. Smokefree Pennsylvania also submitted a report which totaled over 150 pages. Joining in, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller issued a statement regarding e-cigs, noting: the harm of the combustible cigarette is dramatically greater than the harm of the e-cigarette.”

The Saga Continues: 2016

With the FDA legal battles of 2015 carrying over to the new year, seviausa, an association of Chinese e-cigarette manufacturers joined forces to combat unfair FDA regulations. Founding members included major industry players Aspire, Kangertech, Innokin, and SMOK. Also in January, President Obama signed the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015 which would become effective July 26, 2016 and require liquid nicotine containers to meet current child poisoning prevention packaging standards.

In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-department-transportation-explicitly-bans-use-electronic-cigarettes-commercial">banned e-cig usage on planes</a>. This development, while frustrating for some flyers, solidified the confusion on usage. However, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with CASAA, filed suit against the ban, arguing that USDOT was exceeding its congressional grant of authority. That suit was finally settled in mid-2017, with the ban being upheld.

While USDOT opened a whole new debate, May brought the conclusion to 2015s FDA battle, with the release of the FDAs Press Announcment. The FDA noted that all intentions of their decision focused on regulating products available to youth and young adults. This trend of regulation continued, with Pennsylvania placing a 40% wholesale tax on “other tobacco products” which included smokeless tobacco, roll-your-own, and e-cigarettes. The tax, which went into effect on October 1, affected not just  e-liquid but also devices and batteries. Continued turmoil prompted a Right to Vape Tour, a joint effort of CASAA, SFATA, and AVA. The goal of the coalition was to change the “predicate date” of the FDA ruling from February 15, 2007 to August 8, 2016, seeing as the previous date would put companies out of business and ruin a industry that is improving lives through smoking cessation aid. Showing his support once again, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller spoke publicly regarding the benefits that can come from vaping, and the strong impact it is having in the aid to end smoking.

California joins the bandwagon, and increases taxes much like Pennsylvania.  Proposition 56, which was originally proposed to voters as a necessary tax hike on traditional cigarettes, increases taxes on vape productions to the equivalent of 60-70% wholesale. The year ended with companies looking to see how the FDA was going to impact them and the consumer looking for a lesser harm alternative, only to find less money in their wallet.

2017: A Series of Wins

In April, Indiana lawmakers ruled the previous vaping laws as unconstitutional, restoring hope for many e-juice crafters, and vape shop owners in the state. This ruling came after the effects of the restrictions had been heavily felt. Individuals began purchasing e-juice through often dangerous sites to avoid the high prices for quality product, which put themselves at risk, while shop owners found less money coming in for their businesses. While the future looks hopeful for the vapers of Indiana, there's still the uncertainty that the rest of America is facing, with the delay of the FDA's ruling on the e-cig market.

At the end of July, marketers of vapes and e-juice found themselves facing a major reprieve with the FDA opting to push the deadline for the Premarket Tobacco Applications until 2022. This decision shows a softer side of the FDA, encouraging vape activists that the devices that have helped so many with smoking cessation will remain on the market.  

What’s to Come

The future for vaping, while hopeful, is still somewhat of a mystery. We have hope that laws will be formulated in a just manner, noting true research which testifies to the benefits that can occur with vaping. We continue to sign our petitions and raise awareness to the reduced harm alternative that is making a difference in the lives of countless smokers every single day. The future is ours to create, and it begins by vape users joining forces together to stand up for justice. While one person can make a difference, it’s by us coming together that we are the strongest. Get involved with CASAA or other organizations that aid in ensuring the rights of e-cig users everywhere. Write your government officials and share your story with them. The future may be a mystery, but when we all work together, the future looks a little brighter.