Vaping: Up in Smoke?

Monday, May 09, 2016

According to Jared Meyer of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, the FDA is about to kill off the e-cigarette industry:

Though the FDA marketed its regulations as restrictions on minors who purchase tobacco products, the 499-page release contains far more. Perhaps the most ridiculous FDA claim is that these regulations will lead to increased innovation -- even though the agency admits that 99 percent of the market will not be able to comply.

As stated on page 267 of the regulations, "FDA believes that [premarket review] (and the deeming rule as a whole) will not stifle innovation but could, instead, encourage it." This is a nonsensical claim that could only be made by a government agency.

Through these regulations, the FDA "deems" that all tobacco products are under its regulatory scope. Hookahs, cigars, pipe tobacco, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) were not previously covered under the FDA's authority to regulate tobacco, which began with the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Now, all tobacco products that were not commercially marketed on February 15, 2007 (the predicate date) are required to gain FDA approval. Tobacco products that were available on the predicate date are exempt from the FDA approval process. [links in original]
Unfortunately, as Meyer explains further, most companies in this industry are too small to afford the millions of dollars and nearly 2,000 hours it would take to gain approval for their products. In other words, the FDA is about to nudge countless people who wish to quit smoking cigarettes towards an early grave -- in the name of protecting them from themselves:
One only needs to talk to an ex-smoker who quit by vaping to find out that, the more advanced the device and liquid technology becomes, the easier it is for cigarette smokers to kick their habits in favor of another nicotine delivery system. Policymakers should be doing everything in their powers to encourage this change. The UK's Royal College of Physicians finds that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking cigarettes. If these new regulations are allowed to fully take effect, they will bring an early death to many people. [link in original]
In a public policy debate, I once heard something to the effect that the most vital parts of the economy were the ones the government didn't know about yet. I have also heard other actions of the FDA being compared to state-sponsored genocide. Keep this in mind as a concrete example on both counts, and remember it the next time some fool tries to pontificate about how we "need" state regulation to protect us from capitalistic avarice. Oh, and there are a couple of disgusting examples of rent-seeking in this story as well.

Like Meyer, I applaud the vaping industry, but I differ with him on this point: Public policy makers would serve us best in only one way: by removing all government controls from the economy, and returning the state to its proper role of only protecting individual rights. I value my rights and all productive industry too highly to have the politicians who should be protecting the former to be distracted by attempting to run the latter. (This is on top of the fact that such attempts violate rights to begin with.)

-- CAV

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