The Food and Drug Administration is trying its best to regulate e-cigarettes and the vaping industry as a whole right now, and it could end up having devastating consequences on all of the vape shops out there that specialize in selling e-cigs, e-liquids, and more. The FDA recently created a rule book that is nearly 500 pages long in an effort to force the vaping industry to follow many of the same guidelines as the tobacco industry, and there’s a good chance that it will prove to be catastrophic for many vape shops.
The FDA wants to force these shops to do extensive testing on every single product that they sell, and unfortunately, the cost of testing them could end up being too much for most businesses to handle. At the very least, shops will have to shell out several hundred thousand dollars to do testing on a single product, and in some cases, it would likely cost over $1,000,000 per sku (each nicotine content has its own SKU)! Industry experts predict it could drive more than 10,000 vape shops out of business in the coming months and years.
While some people are celebrating the regulations, there are many, both inside and outside of the vaping community who are upset with the way the FDA is handling their business right now. Specifically, many people believe that corruption played a large part in the FDA being able to create their rule book in the first place, and there are some reports that money may have exchanged hands during the process of the FDA trying to regulate e-cigarettes and the vaping industry.
According to one report published by The Daily Caller back in May, there is a group of Democratic senators who congratulated the FDA for cracking down on e-cigarettes by writing a letter to the agency. “We commend the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for finalizing the deeming rule that extends FDA regulatory authority to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco,” the letter said, “to protect the public’s health—and especially the health of young Americans—from the harmful effects of tobacco.”
The Daily Caller found a handful of these Democratic senators—including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (California), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Sen. Jack Reed (Rhode Island), Sen. Tom Udall (New Mexico), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island)—all accepted donations totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a handful of pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and CVS Health over the last few years.
This could potentially be problematic because those pharmaceutical companies specialize in creating products like nicotine gum and patches that are often viewed as competitors to e-cigarettes. So the thought is that, by accepting donations from “Big Pharma” while supporting the FDA in their regulation of the vaping industry, corruption could be at play.
Some politicians may essentially be throwing their support behind the FDA’s new vaping regulations simply because they are being paid by large pharmaceutical companies to do it and not because they think it’s what best for the American people.
And that isn’t the only thing that opponents of the FDA’s new regulations find problematic. Back in 2015, President Obama nominated Dr. Robert Califf to be the new commissioner of the FDA. According to Time, he had previously served as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco, and he is a cardiologist who is known for being an excellent researcher.
But one thing that has concerned many people ever since he was appointed commissioner of the FDA is that, in the past, he has had financial ties to many large medical device and drug companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, AstraZeneca, and more—and this seems to create a clear conflict of interest.
There’s no clear-cut evidence to suggest that would act in favor of pharmaceutical companies when it comes to e-cigarette regulations, but the fact that he has ties to those companies worries some people.
It’s why some Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson from Wisconsin have sought answers from the FDA with regards to their new regulations. Johnson and many others are wondering why these “burdensome and costly” regulations were put into place and want the FDA to be more transparent about the process.
From the outside looking in, it appears as though the big tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies, and some politicians worked together to make the FDA regulations a reality when they aren’t necessarily going to protect the people who buy and sell e-cigarettes and the products that are associated with them.
Sadly, this is not the first time that the FDA has been accused of being a corrupt organization. Back in 2013, an article that was published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics laid out evidence that suggested that about 90 percent of all new drugs that were approved by the FDA over the last three decades were as effective as the drugs that were already on the market at the time.
The report also suggested that prescription drugs are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and that, unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies making large contributions to those serving in Congress was resulting in a large number of ineffective and, in some cases, dangerous drugs getting approved by the FDA. And this is just one example of the FDA being accused of being corrupt.
In recent weeks, the outrageous prices of some prescription drugs have also been a hot topic with experts speculating about what role corruption plays in the marked-up prices of these drugs. It has cast the FDA and pharmaceutical companies in a negative light.
Does this mean that FDA corruption is definitely to blame for the new e-cigarette regulations? Of course not. But it does mean that, given the FDA’s recent history, it would likely be wise to question whether or not there was some connection between FDA corruption and the regulations.
It could help change the perception of e-cigarettes around the nation and make people take a second look at the FDA’s decision to place such a heavy burden on the vaping industry by creating a rule book that is probably going to end up doing far more harm than good.