WASHINGTON (July 28, 2017) – The R Street Institute welcomes today’s announcement by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb that the administration will postpone a regulation, previously set to take effect this fall, that would force manufacturers to get agency approval for tobacco and nicotine products introduced to the market after February 2007. This costly process would, in practice, have resulted in the near complete elimination of harm-reduction tools like e-cigarettes from the market.
R Street Harm Reduction Policy Director Carrie Wade noted that this should be considered an important first step to reorient FDA regulation of tobacco products from a process designed to protect the sales and profits of the major cigarette makers to one designed to reduce tobacco-related addiction, illness and death.
“R Street has been one of the leading proponents of a harm-reduction approach to cigarette addiction, so to read today’s announcement feels like vindication that someone is listening,” Wade said. “It’s taken a little while, but it seems the FDA is beginning to realize something the scientific community woke up to years ago: policies aimed at destroying the e-cigarette market actually would result in the unintended consequence of more smokers sticking with traditional combustible cigarettes.”
Wade pointed to a study published this month in the British Medical Journal, using data from the FDA’s Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey, which shows e-cigarettes contribute to significant increases in successful quit attempts across the country.
Today’s announcement is particularly helpful in allowing customized products offered by independent vape shops—most of whom do not have the resources to comply with the FDA ruling—to remain on the market. While additional steps will be required by the FDA and other federal agencies to support further enhancements to product development and to fully integrate a tobacco harm reduction component into current tobacco control programming, today’s news is likely to accelerate the remarkable recent declines in cigarette use in the United States.