On the FDA and E Cigarettes

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DISCLAIMER: While I may enjoy a rare cigar or pipe of tobacco perhaps once or twice per year, I don’t regularly consume tobacco products or nicotine. This post is more my musings on the bureaucracy and workings of the federal government.

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded its regulation authority to include “Vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, electronic cigarettes (e-cigs), and e-pipes are some of the many types of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)”.

I have concerns.

According to their press release,

Examples of components and parts of ENDS include, but are not limited to:

  • E-liquids
  • A glass or plastic vial container of e-liquid
  • Cartridges
  • Atomizers
  • Certain batteries
  • Cartomizers and clearomizers
  • Digital display or lights to adjust settings
  • Tank systems
  • Drip tips
  • Flavorings for ENDS
  • Programmable software

So, in short, it’s regulating all of the paraphernalia associated with vaping, and not merely the nicotine itself.

This is concerning to me.

Back in my college days, I used to smoke a (tobacco) pipe and cigars on a weekly basis with other students.  It was a communal event, and I learned to blow smoke rings.  As I’ve grown in the decade since then, I’ve lost the inclination to smoke, and really have no desire for nicotine.  I’ll occasionally smoke a pipe socially with friends once or twice a year, but I do enjoy blowing smoke rings.

As such, I own an electronic cigarette, and I purchased a quart of food-grade USP Propylene Glycol — the base liquid that most suppliers use when making liquid for vaping — and I’ll occasionally use it to blow smoke rings in my office.  No nicotine, no flavorings.

By my understanding, the FDA’s regulation of E-liquids has no limitation to “We only regulate E-liquids that contain nicotine” — in fact, they even state explicitly that:

If the tobacco product manufacturer submits a self-certification statement to FDA that the newly-regulated tobacco product does not contain nicotine (and that the manufacturer has data to support this assertion), then an alternate statement must be used on product packages and advertisements:

“This product is made from tobacco.”

Keep in mind that they are also broadly defining “Tobacco Product” to include all ENDS including all E-liquids and cartridges, atomizers, and even certain batteries. They must be labeled (falsely) that it is made from tobacco?

This feels like a significant overreach.

It strikes me that a similar regulatory effect could be accomplished, simply by exclusively regulating exclusively substances that contain nicotine. What is gained by having the Food and Drug Administration regulating the batteries that power vaporizers? Regulate the nicotine. If someone’s selling electronic cigarettes that come preloaded with nicotine? Sure, regulate that.  But leave the rest alone.

Author: George Stephanis

Cooking, Code, Carpentry, Letterpress.

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