Thorner: Heartland Institute Panel: Vaping as a Public Policy ‘War’ – Part 2

April 30, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Thorner: Heartland Institute Panel: Vaping as a Public Policy ‘War’ – Part 2

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By Nancy Thorner –  

Public Health England last in August of 2015 became the first national government agency to endorse e-cigarettes as safer options for current smokers. Its report also dispelled several bogus anti-tobacco claims.  Why is it that e-Cigarettes are seen as life-savers by the UK Government, but condemned by the US?  Find out why by checking this recent article of Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

Brian Foitik, guest speaker at The Heartland Institute’s event about “The Vaping War” on Wednesday, April 20 (see Part 1), linked the “war” on vaping to a happening 52 years ago when the Surgeon General recognized tobacco as a health issue, where upon tobacco was taxed at all levels of government.  It was easy to levy a tax on tobacco because of the limited of individuals who smoked at the time.  Nevertheless, even after a 52-year campaign of educating the public about smoking and related health issues through word-of-mouth, negative advertising, and marketing restrictions, there are still 40+ million smokers in this nation.  450,000 will die every years from tobacco-related illnesses.  Although 70% of smokers want to quit; a majority have tried to quit but weren’t successful.

Even though many e-cigarette smokers begin vaping to wean themselves off tobacco products, why do e-cigarette smokers reap the same hatred from the non-smoking public as those who smoke tobacco cigarettes?   Might it be because people are taught not only to hate cigarettes, but also to hate the one who smokes them?  For these individuals a cigarette is a cigarette.  It matters not that one is a tobacco product and the other a vapor product that is not comparable to the thousands of toxic agents formed when tobacco is burned.

Vaping as a Consumer-Driven Business

As more and more individuals desire a product that is a safe and effective smoking cessation aid, the number of consumer driven vapor shops are growing proportionally.  There are 15,000 vapor shops.  All are new businesses; people are employed and property taxes are paid.  When there are people who want something, products are offered as a solution to the problem.  This is the free market at work.  Regulations and taxes only inhibit innovation in a free market system.

Pharmaceutical companies are able to come up with new products to help people stop smoking, but each new product must receive FDA approval, which requires an expensive and lengthy process to be able to market and sell a new product. Pharmaceutical companies do get a break from taxes.  As a result of ill-conceived tax breaks, the pharmaceutical industry pays just 5.6 percent of its profits in taxes.  After one product doesn’t work, repeat customers can be drawn back when a new cessation of smoking product is developed.  In contrast, the vaping community could ill afford, with its limited resources, to have each vaping product approved by the FDA.  Even a different vaping flavor would require new FDA approval at a great cost and with considerable approval time.

The vaping industry enjoyed a bit of a victory in a report dated April 14, 2016, when the House appropriations committee voted to approve an amendment to the FY 2017 Agricultural Appropriations bill that would change the predicate date for newly deemed tobacco products. Products on the market since 2007 would not have to retroactively go through the PMTA process.  As such vaping products would not be considered tobacco products. The bipartisan amendment by Rep. Tom Cole (R – OK) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D – GA) passed by a 31-19 vote.

Victoria Vasconcello, former long-time smoker and owner of Cignot Inc.

As already noted in Part 1, Ms. Vasconcello, as a former long-time smoker, has been in the vaping business since 2009.  She considers vaping as a consumer-driven solution to a problem; however, government is seeking to balance budgets by putting lives in jeopardy.  Victoria Vasconcello graciously relinquished most of her allotted speaking time, noting that Brian Fojtik had covered the vaping topic so thoroughly in his prior comments, likewise expressing that she wanted there to be ample time for a productive Question and Answer session.

In response to one of the question from the audience (questions were also submitted by those watching the live on-stream presentation) “What can the little guy do to have a presence in CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternates)?” Ms. Vasconcello suggested joining the 135,000 member CASAA group and meeting with local legislators.  The science is out there to support the use of e-cigarettes.  Help legislators know what the science is.  Genuine fear develops from not knowing the truth.  Finally long time smokers have found something that helps them, and they are standing up and fighting with truth on their side.  Consumers do have power!

Concluding Thoughts

Support for the vaping community can be broadened by minimizing the arguments of center left groups.  Unfortunately, PR hasn’t been on the side of e-cigarettes to enable them to become mainstream, unlike in England where the government backs e-cigarettes for smokers.  There is limited money in the vaping community to get out the truth. This results in most of the studies being done by those who hold a con e-cigarette agenda.  The minds of the American people must be changed.  A New Poll Finds Americans’ Risk Perception of Vaping is All Wrong.  The vaping community just wants to compete!

As government is addicted to the money it receives from tobacco products, and this money is decreasing as smoking decreases, there are attempts being made to tax e-cigarettes to keep coffers filled. The good news is that there have been 500 pieces of legislation enacted which attempt to tax and restrict e-cigarette use, but only a few of them have passed.  It is ironic, however, that the Omnibus Bill Will Protect Cigarette Markets & Harm Public Health.  Letters to the Editor are a good way to educate the public about e-cigarettes.

Below are three articles that show how Chicago is dealing with e-cigarettes.  The e-cigarette tax referred to in the first article went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Chicago’s Deadly E-Cigarette Tax Takes Effect Tomorrow

Chicago Vaping Tax is About Cigarette Tax Dollars, Not Health

Rahm Emanuel’s E-Cig Tax Will Kill Smokers & Small Businesses

Following are additional note-worthy e-cigarette articles:

1.  Articles by Brad Radu, Heartland’s Senior Fellow who holds the Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville.

2.  “Wall Street Journal” article published Monday, April 11, 2016.

In the article “Are E-Cigarettes a Healthy Way to Quit Smoking?”, both the pro and the con sides were presented.  Even though e-cigarette sales have been growing, they remain dwarfed by the $100 billion tobacco market. 

Jim Lakely, Communications Director at The Heartland Institute, served as moderator, describing The Heartland Institute as a free market think tank that fights for policies that increase freedom and liberty and promotes the free market.  Covering only domestic policies, Heartland is one of few think tanks that stands up for the rights of the smoker.

An announcement was made by Jim Lakely to join Heartland for the Grand Opening of the largest freedom library in Chicagoland. The Michael Parry Mazur Library, named after an economist who passed away in 1987 by his family in Mazur’s honor, is a rapidly growing research library containing an excellent collection of works on economics, history, political science, public policy, and related topics. The public is invited to attend on Wednesday, May 4, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 p.m. at Heartland headquarters, 3939 N. Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004. Registration is free. See map: Google Maps.  Check this link for free registration for the event. 

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