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This is a ROUGH draft of a letter to Sen. Graham (I'll add the "Honorables" and stuff later). I'm posting it because I don't think I fully understand the immediate issue, and really need someone, or several someones, to read and correct what I've written.
I haven't checked to see about House members yet, but my Congressman is Jim Clyburn, and I wouldn't waste a stamp asking him to do anything that would cause his leadership to get all frowny.
I have long been an admirer of your intelligence and political skills, and proud that you are my senator. So I was very disappointed to read recently that you supported Sen. Durbin's amendment to the appropriations bill urging the Food and Drug Administration to promulgate regulations on "other" tobacco products.
Although the language in the amendment emphasizes regulation of flavored cigars (using some very shaky justification), pressure on the FDA to issue deeming regulation for other tobacco products could very well push the agency toward actions that will have serious and harmful effects on the health of millions of citizens.
I was a smoker for 52 years until I discovered the electronic cigarette, which all of the research so far shows to be at least 95 percent safer than cigarettes (the FDA's misleading 2009 press release notwithstanding). Many other former smokers are improving their health and lengthening their lives by using various forms of smokeless tobacco such as snus or dissolvables. I believe that a deeming regulation would make all of these products unavailable in the short term, expensive and user-unfriendly in the long run.
The FDA's bias against tobacco harm reduction and its willingness to conceal the truth about safer alternatives is undeniable. It is simply frightening to me that having at last freed myself from cigarette smoke, that agency is being urged to take actions that may drive me back to it.
Please use the influence you have to urge the FDA to change its stance toward tobacco harm reduction, to be more truthful in its communications about the relative dangers of various tobacco products, and to proceed cautiously before regulating several million former smokers back into smoking.