Doctors Attack E-Cigarette Taxes, Tell FDA To Focus On Benefits Of Vaping

Jason Fourmont (R) exhales vapor from his e-cigarette before attending a city council meeting that will address the legality of indoor use of the device in New York December 19, 2013. The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on a bill that would add electronic cigarettes to the city

A collection of scientists and researchers are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to focus on the benefits of e-cigarettes and warn heavy taxation would be bad for public health.

Seven leading tobacco control experts took to the pages of the journal Addiction to examine the evidence on e-cigarettes. They found the devices cut smoking overall and could slash the number of deaths from tobacco.

“We’re concerned the FDA, which has asserted its right to regulate e-cigarettes, will focus solely on the possibility that e-cigarettes and other vapor nicotine products might act as a gateway to cigarette use,” says David Levy, professor in the department of oncology at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“We believe that the discussion to date has been slanted against e-cigarettes, which is unfortunate because the big picture tells us that these products appear to be used mostly by people who already are or who are likely to become cigarette smokers,” adds Levy.

The FDA is set to announce the regulations which could require all vapor products released after Feb, 15, 2007, (predicate date) to go through the onerous Pre-Market Tobacco Applications process.

The vast majority of e-cigarette businesses will not be able to bear the cost of this regulation and as much as 99 percent of products could disappear from the market if the rules are not altered.

An amendment to the spending bill from Reps. Tom Cole
and Sanford Bishop, which passed the House Committee on Appropriations 31-19, would alter the predicate date and save most products on the market. A vote by the House on the spending bill has not been scheduled. (RELATED: Vapers Win Big: House Committee Passes Amendment To Save E-Cigarettes)

“We don’t want to encourage e-cigarette use by youth and young adults who would not have otherwise smoked. However, the primary aim of tobacco control policy should be to discourage cigarette use while providing the means for smokers to more easily quit smoking, even if that means switching for some time to e-cigarettes rather than quitting all nicotine use,” the authors write in Addiction.
They also agreed with policy experts that slapping e-cigarettes with taxes equal to those of regular cigarettes will discourage smokers from switching to e-cigarettes, which are 95 percent safer. (RELATED: Utah’s E-Cigarette Tax ‘Boggles The Mind’ And Could Prevent Smokers Quitting)

“Increasing e-cigarette prices by taxing them the same way as cigarettes will discourage youth VNP use, but also discourage use by smokers, especially those of lower socioeconomic status, who are trying to quit,” says Levy.

The authors of the article include David T. Levy, Ph.D, of Georgetown University; K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D, MPH, of the Medical University of South Carolina; Andrea C. Villanti, Ph.D, MPH, Ray Niaura, Ph.D, and David B. Abrams, Ph.D, from Truth Initiative; Geoffrey T. Fong, Ph.D, of the University of Waterloo in Canada; and Ron Borland, Ph.D, of Cancer Control Victoria, in Australia.

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