(Vape, via Wikimedia Commons)
Leading players in the electronic-cigarette industry expressed few open concerns with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposal on Thursday to regulate the battery-powered devices for the first time, saying they share many of the agency’s goals.
Lorillard Inc., maker of blu eCigs, and the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), a trade group for the industry, said they back FDA plans to stop sales to minors and establish ingredient listing requirements and safety and quality standards. The proposals, which also would cover cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs, came out of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The 2009 law gave the FDA the power to regulate e-cigarettes and other unregulated products that contain nicotine.
“It appears that the FDA is taking a science-based approach, and that the proposed rule itself defines a constructive process that recognizes that e-cigarettes are different than combustible cigarettes,” Murray Kessler, Lorillard’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a written statement. “Despite what I am sure will be a robust give-and-take process over the coming months, we remain committed to our belief that electronic cigarettes represent a major opportunity to align the interests of business and public health.”
A potential sticking point between the FDA and the e-cigarette makers is whether the devices should fall under a different regulatory regime than other tobacco products. The FDA has specifically requested suggestions about how e-cigarettes should be regulated as part of its public comment period for the proposal. The public can comment on the agency’s plan until July.
The trade association expressed fear that the FDA would treat e-cigarettes like standard tobacco products. The group said in a written statement that e-cigarettes, marketed as alternatives to traditional cigarettes, are a “technology product” that represents “a new and unique category.” E-cigarettes deliver nicotine via a vapor rather than smoke in a process sometimes referred to as “vaping.”
“We would like to work with both FDA and Congress to develop the appropriate regulatory framework for the category,” the organization said. “SFATA will increase our lobby activities in D.C. over the coming months to educate and inform legislators and regulators the challenges that the proposed regulations present to the future of this emerging product category and the adult consumers who enjoy vaping.”
In March, the association registered its first federal lobbyists with Congress. The group paid Blank Rome Government Relations $30,000 for help during the first quarter of this year, according to congressional records.
Lorillard during the first three months of this year paid Dickstein Shapiro $500,000 to monitor action on e-cigarettes, among other issues, congressional records show.
“As we work to finalize the proposed rule, we welcome comments and will consider all that are submitted, as well as any data, research and other information submitted to the docket for this proposed rule,” FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg wrote in a blog post.
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