Anti-THR Activists Fight Back

Posted 9th May 2017 by Dave Cross
As detailed elsewhere on POTV news this week, Trump’s sacking of the Surgeon General combined with his FDA appointee has given people opposed to tobacco harm reduction (THR) the jitters. With the Cole-Bishop Amendment and the Hunter bill, anti-THR campaigners have heralded that Big Tobacco are carrying out a "multi-pronged assault" aimed at gutting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to regulate vaping.

They are worried, it’s beyond doubt, a short while ago the anti-vape lobby were laughing and backslapping as they had almost crushed vaping in the States with their lies and hysteria. Temporary normality returned for them on Monday as they kicked the Cole-Bishop Amendment to the kerb. “We have eliminated more than 160 Republican poison pill riders,” crowed the office of Nancy Pelosi.

Of course, while the Cole-Bishop Amendment sought to drag the vaping industry from the clutches of the FDA its defeat shouldn’t be seen as power still residing with the anti-THR lobby. It fell as just one of a whole number of Trump/Republican initiatives against a backdrop of budget negotiations. It still came as a slap to the U.S. vape community.

"It is absolutely shameful that Democrat leaders stood in the way of this job-protecting amendment from becoming law," said Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, a non-profit that advocates for the continued availability of vapour products.

"Democrats are setting themselves up to experience a reality check on vaping in the November 2018 mid-term elections," said Conley. "The FDA's deeming ban is set to take effect less than three months before Senate Democrats have some of their toughest election fights in years. Just as vapers helped re-elect Senator Ron Johnson, vapers will vote out Senators who stand by idly as harm reduction products are yanked from shelves."

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) senses trouble. The organisation, violently opposed to vaping and the source of many current lies circulating about the technology, is screaming that Big Tobacco is working to pull the strings of government. It is an act of desperation, one that comes from the isolation it is now feeling as it looks to be further excluded from legislative decision making.

“New disclosure documents filed this week show the big tobacco companies are spending huge sums and hiring an army of lobbyists to influence Congress and the Trump Administration, including giving $1.5 million to President Trump’s inauguration,” the CTFK writes in a press release.

“It’s no secret what the tobacco companies want: They’re waging a multi-pronged assault on a new rule the Food and Drug Administration issued last year for electronic cigarettes and cigars – products that are sold in a huge assortment of sweet flavours and threaten to hook a new generation of kids. If draining the swamp of special interests is to mean anything, it should start with protecting America’s kids and not the tobacco industry.”

It’s a logical progression for the organisation to attack Trump and accuse him of corrupt practises, as a last roll of the dice. Given that he is developing a Teflon persona to other allegations, it seems hardly likely to be a productive one for the liars at CTFK – even if there is truth in any of their claims.

“In Congress, tobacco companies are pushing two bills that would greatly weaken FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars and protect tobacco companies’ ability to market candy-flavoured products that are so enticing to kids.”

David Howard, Reynolds American’s spokesperson, responded: “The FDA has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes. We [were] not trying to change that. The intent of the Cole-Bishop legislation [was] to add language that will enable responsible innovation of these products that may present less risk compared to cigarettes.”

Nationally, places like Bismark in North Dakota are still trying to push through vape bans, to “keep tobacco away from our kids”. Promotion of ignorance also continues unabated, the UA College of Nursing has received a $225,000 grant “to make sure [kids] understand the dangers involved” in vaping.

The proposed Hunter bill will stop Dakota and the UA College in their tracks: States will have to abide by national policy and organisation will have to focus on the harm reduction aspect instead of the “it’s not 100% safe” approach they’ve embraced to date.

What remains clear is that the fight for vape is far from over, and if the ecig industry can win in the United States it will have repercussions the world over.


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker