“The federal government’s decision to regulate all nicotine products without regard for the amount of harm they cause will ultimately be detrimental to overall public health,” writes Lehrer as he introduces the new R Street policy study co-written by Clive Bates, former director of the United Kingdom’s Action on Smoking and Health; R Street President Lehrer himself; and David Sweanor, professor at the University of Ottawa’s Center for Health Law.
In a direct appeal for common sense, the team make a bid to communicate the gravity of the situation before it’s too late: “despite very large expenditures and sweeping federal powers, perverse tobacco policy is failing the American public and will soon destroy thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
They note that the majority of objections to vaping come from people expressing “concern about children,” which ignores the fall from 15.8% to 9.3% in high school student smoking rates from 2011 to 2015.
The document lists out eight key areas that they believe should be taken into serious consideration by President Trump and the 115th Congress:
- Seize the huge opportunity presented by low-risk nicotine products: To achieve this they suggest making appointments to drive forward an agenda that will save both money and lives.
- Cancel the FDA deeming rule before it destroys the U.S. vaping market.
- Establish a standards-based regime for low-risk nicotine products: These standards would ensure average exposures were at least 90 percent lower than smoking.
- Use new labels to inform consumers about relative risk: Using its rulemaking powers, FDA should allow manufacturers to apply an accurate ‘harm reduction’ message to all non-combustible tobacco or nicotine products: “This product presents substantially lower risks to health than cigarettes”.
- Stop using the public health test to protect the cigarette trade: The public health test in the Tobacco Control Act does not protect the public health, but it does protect the cigarette trade from competition.
- Restore honesty and candor to public-health campaigns: Set a goal that by 2020 at least 75% of Americans believe that e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and heated tobacco products are, correctly, each ‘very much less harmful’ than cigarettes.
- Refocus tobacco science on the public interest, not bureaucratic expansion: change the incentive structures in tobacco-related research to stress objectivity in the public interest, not to justify expanded bureaucratic intervention.
- Challenge vapor and smokeless prohibitions under World Trade Organization rules: The United States should initiate complaints under World Trade Organization agreements about wholly unjustified prohibitions of low-risk nicotine products in jurisdictions outside the United States.
We now have to wait to see how ‘The Donald’ will respond to this document.