The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a previous ruling regarding the Indiana vaping laws, labeling parts of the legislation as “remarkably specific” and unconstitutional. The collection of laws governs the manufacture and sale of vape technology and e-liquids within the state. Related regulations involve the requirement for retailers to hire an outside security firm with a long list of credentials that many consider legislative overreach.
There is a long-standing argument within the vaping community as to whether the FDA deeming regulations are eligible for quick repeal via the Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA). And the Wall Street Journal is now indirectly entering the debate.
When the FDA deeming regulations were first announced in May of 2016, the vaping industry was shocked to learn that the agency considers e-cigs and vaping technology to be classified as “tobacco products.” While many of the flavored e-liquids used in these devices happen to contain nicotine, they are also 100% tobacco-free. And nicotine is not necessarily synonymous with tobacco.
Several advocacy sites for the legalization of marijuana are reporting confirmation from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that Jim O’Neill is on the short list as Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA). This would be great news for the weed industry because O’Neill just happens to be a former member of the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, a key organization in California’s successful fight to legalize marijuana. O’Neill is also well-known for being a staunch Libertarian, a political party whose platform supports both legalized marijuana and vaping.
Hawaii was the first state in the nation to raise the legal smoking age to 21, and now its legislators want to ban the sale of nicotine enhanced e-cigs without including a similar ban on combustible cigarettes. The bill entitled SB 1055 was officially introduced into the state legislature on January 24, and it is sponsored by two State Senators from the Democratic Party, Sen. Ronald Kouchi and Sen. William Espero.
Mother Jones is often considered one of the more reputable news organizations online, but even their reporters can easily fall victim to biased vape studies released in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The vaping industry is once again under attack by a CDC-supported “giant study” recently posted in the online Pediatrics journal. It claims that e-cigarettes are enticing teens to vape who otherwise normally would not smoke a conventional cigarette.
But the research is filled with many holes. By collecting data from a cross-sectional selection of sixth through twelfth graders, the researchers came to the conclusion that the rate of decline in teen smoking between 2009 to 2014 is no different from the rate of decline from five years preceding. Normally, scientific evidence showing that teen smoking has been consistently dropping since 2005 would be considered good news. But not at Mother Jones and certainly not at the CDC.
Mother Jones fails to cite the flaws in the CDC study
By diving deeper into the Pediatrics report, we find that the co-authors further claim that e-cigs are in no way contributing to this rapid decline in teen smoking. In fact, vaping is blamed for attracting youth to smoke rather than curbing them. And Mother Jones bought right into the argument without even investigating the study’s research techniques.
If electronic cigarettes are in no way responsible for the decline in teen smoking, then how can they be blamed for attracting teens to smoke? The logic simply does not make sense. Either teens are smoking more or they are smoking less. So, which is it? Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health points out another major flaw in the CDC study’s findings.
“There is a more technical flaw with the analysis as well. The investigators choose a split point of 2009 to test the before and after trends in smoking. But there was little difference in youth smoking as measured by the NYTS between 2009 and 2011. Thus, using 2009 as the split point creates an artificially low estimate of the decline in youth smoking from 2011 to 2014. You can see from Figure 1 in the paper that there was a substantial increase in the rate of decline in youth smoking from 2011 to 2014, compared to the period from 2004 to 2011. That the model used in the paper doesn’t fit the data is clear from how far off the 2011 data point is from the trend line.”
Mother Jones quotes Stanton Glatz
To further support the drive home the study’s unsubstantiated claims, the Mother Jones reporter solicited a comment from Stanton Glantz, one of the co-authors of the study and perhaps the most notorious scientist-for-hire for the anti-vaping movement. Glantz makes the giant leap to conclude that “E-cigarettes are encouraging—not discouraging—youth to smoke.” Even though the study’s findings offer no scientific evidence to validate this outlandish claim, Mother Jones still reports the quote.
Perhaps in an effort to appear somewhat unbiased in their reporting, the Mother Jones reporter allowed Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association to issue a brief (very brief) statement. Of course, Conley’s quote is buried deep towards the end of the article, and it is not even printed in its entirety.
“Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, says that the study’s findings ‘strain credulity,’ as youth smoking is rapidly declining, teens typically use vapor products occasionally rather than habitually, and ‘only a fraction of recent users report using the products with nicotine.’”
The real problem with the Mother Jones article is the headline itself, Giant Study Shows That—Surprise!—Vaping Entices Non-Smokers. The headline is essentially misleading because the study proves no such thing. The co-authors only claim to reach to this conclusion without offering any substantive data to back it up.
The vaping industry deserves professional news organizations who are not afraid to question the authors of these CDC-supported “vape studies.” Vaping and e-cigs have helped millions of people to quit smoking while also dramatically improving their long-term health. The Mother Jones article fails to mention any of the positive health benefits of vaping whatsoever. But the headline sure is attention-grabbing!
Article Credit: Matt Rowland
According to a recently released report by the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia (CARBC) at the University of Victoria, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that vaping is a gateway to smoking. The team of scientific investigators led by Doctors Renée O’Leary and Marjorie MacDonald reviewed some 170 published articles from various public health agencies, scientific communities, and other pertinent sources only to discover the exact opposite to be true. Tobacco use among teens and young adults is steadily declining as vaping and e-cig technology increases in popularity.
It’s Inauguration Day 2017, and America has a new, somewhat tech-savvy President in Donald Trump. The Twitter-loving POTUS has had a rather rocky relationship with the tech industry in recent months, publicly slamming leading companies like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook frequently during his election campaign.
Yesterday afternoon, January 18, the U.S. National Park Service posted a short and rather mysterious announcement on the Federal Register seeming backtracking on their recent call for a vaping ban in all national parks. The original announcement posted on January 6 opened the matter up for public discussion for a period of some 60-days. However, it only took less than two weeks for the NPS to seemingly change its mind.
(This story has been recently updated with additional information. See below)
The U.S. House of Representatives has recently passed the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017, a bill which could essentially overturn the FDA deeming regulations almost immediately if also approved by the Senate. The bill will allow Congress to consolidate and overturn regulatory actions submitted for congressional review within the last 60 legislative days of the Obama Presidency, or those dating as far back as May 2016. The FDA deeming regulations published on May 10 may just barely make the cut, according to The National Law Review.
This congressional action comes just hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration attempted to tighten its grip on the struggling vaping industry by announcing an additional rule that would further clarify the agency’s stance regarding e-cigs as tobacco products. The FDA’s “Final Rule” may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back in the eyes of the Republican Congress.
The Midnight bill passed the House largely along party lines, resulting in the vaping industry seemingly achieving the impossible – a legal reprieve from the crippling FDA deeming regulations that threaten to wipe out the entire industry by 2018.
More about the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017
The GOP-controlled 115th Congress is not wasting any time in revoking many of President Obama’s legacy legislative decisions from the past eight years. Senate Republicans have already taken decisive actions to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, but the process is proving more complex and time-consuming than many had previously anticipated.
The H.R. 21 Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 will dramatically expedite the repeal process for some 200+ pieces of lesser-known, Obama-approved legislation listed in a report by the House Freedom Caucus. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by Donald Trump, the bill will amend the current Congressional Review Act (CRA) by granting Congress the authority to simultaneously group and overturn the combination of regulatory packages all at once. Without the amendment, the CRA requires Congress to hold separate votes on each bundle.
This could be good news for the vaping industry because the FDA deeming regulations are not high on the list of Obama-inspired legislation that the Republican want to overturn. Although the Republicans largely agree that the deeming regulations must be repealed, they have much bigger fish to fry at the moment.
Passing the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 might save the U.S. vaping industry several months of finger-crossing hoping that the GOP doesn’t forget them. Furthermore, the bill also safeguards the vaping industry from any potentially damaging last-minute regulations that the FDA might try to sneak in under the wire during the last days of the Obama Presidency.
Mitch McConnell and the Midnight Rules Relief Act
However, to gain final approval, the Midnight Rules Relief Act needs a full 60 votes in the Senate rather than just a simple majority vote. And currently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is remaining rather quiet regarding his opinions on this particular piece of legislation. And support from McConnell is almost a necessity.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and California Congressman Duncan Hunter, affectionately nicknamed “The Vaping Congressman” by e-cig enthusiasts, have publicly requested that the FDA overturn the deeming regulations on their own, just to save time. But the FDA continues to ignore their requests. If passed by the Senate, the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 resolves this conflict once and for all.
Article Credit: Matt Rowland