Facing potential bankruptcy, the nation’s 15,000 vaping and e-cigarette outlets are mounting a massive political campaign to win a congressional reversal of new and costly Food and Drug Administration rules that just went into effect.
The “Right to Vape” campaign plans to barnstorm through 15 battleground and politically influential states to pressure lawmakers up for re-election to promise to use the upcoming November lame-duck session to make changes to the regulations.
The Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform has teamed with Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association and the American Vaping Association, for an October bus tour, organizers told the Washington Examiner.
The FDA this summer banned the sale of e-cigarettes to youths under 18 and is requiring agency approval of any vaping product made before Feb. 15, 2007, which the businesses expect to be complicated and expensive.
Anti-tobacco groups have been battling with “vaping” businesses because the fluids used include some tobacco products, but not as much as cigarettes. The groups say the products are unhealthy, though some European nations promote vaping as a way to stop cigarette smoking.
The industry said the new rules will cost the typically mom-and-pop outlets hundreds of thousands of dollars to comply and will put most out of business. The FDA rule also comes as some states, notably Pennsylvania, are imposing retroactive taxes of 40 percent or more.
The bus tour will swing through Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Paul Blair, state affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform, said the goal is to educate lawmakers and the public on the health benefits and safety of vaping, and to raise questions about taxing small businesses. He said the coalition will be urging lawmakers to amend the FDA rules in an end-of-year deal budget, including a broad omnibus spending bill.
Chris Hughes, who operates Fat Cat Vapor Shop near Williamsport, Pa., said the FDA rules and Pennsylvania tax will put him out of business this year if not reversed. But instead of standing by, he has decided to challenge his state House member, a Republican, who voted for the tax.