My Response to FDA Deeming Regulations
The use of personal vaporizers (PV) has allowed me to easily walk away from a 25+ year cigarette habit. This would not have occurred had I used the technology from 2007 or earlier (which I tried in 2008 and found lacking and unsatisfactory) or had my only choice of flavor been tobacco. In fact, dessert and fruit flavors are not only my favorite, but helped to reinforce the terrible flavor of cigarettes, making it much easier to say no to smoking and yes to vaping. The larger devices, made by small companies that are completely unaffiliated with Big Tobacco, provided a much more pleasant experience than the smaller e-cigs and allowed me to tailor my quitting experience to cope with any anxiety or withdrawal symptoms. Further, once free from cigarettes, I noticed that my dependence on nicotine has became significantly less, allowing me to go for longer periods between using my PV than I ever could between cigarettes--so much so that I have reduced the nicotine content in my liquids from 18 mg to 6 mg in four months with little concern. I have noticed significant improvements to my health as a result of switching.
I know that my story can only be considered anecdotal. However, while the makers of these devices cannot make the claim that they do aid in smoking cessation (and research on the subject reaches sometimes dubious conclusions), my personal experience, as well as that of many whose claims can be found throughout the internet, in comments on news stories, online forums, and vape shops across the country, is that they can, in fact, contribute to a cessation from using combustible tobacco. The existence of so many success stories suggests that researchers, many of whom are funded by the FDA, CDC, or other health organizations are either studying older devices, ignoring data, misinterpreting results, or asking the wrong questions. Despite the fact that manufacturers cannot claim PVs to be cessation devices, many consumers decide to use them for just such a purpose--many with results similar to my own. This would not be the first time that a product has been approved by the FDA for one use but proven popular for another (cf. Viagra).
I understand that the Tobacco Control Act is the mechanism that limits approval of technology to that of 2007 or earlier, but I believe that this restriction would not only seriously impact the choices of consumers and bolster the standing of larger corporations in the market, it would also severely curtail the use of electronic devices by consumers who use them as an aid to quit or avoid smoking. My personal observation, as someone who has tried the products, is that the smaller "e-cigs" are sufficient for smokers to avoid smoking a single cigarette, but that the larger, more advanced PVs are the most effective devices to get people to quit. Further, limiting innovation and technological progress through cumbersome and expensive bureaucratic processes would have a profound effect on the market and may steer consumers back toward combustible tobacco if the products available are restricted to weak, ineffective solutions. Many ex-smokers suffer relapses--retaining the presence of effective alternatives to cigarettes (which differ from currently approved cessation products) can help save people's lives. Therefore, please consider incorporating lobbying for a change to the Tobacco Control Act to allow the law to keep pace with advances in technology.
Last, with regards to the liquids used in PVs, while I agree that disclosure of ingredients is important, please consider three things:
1) Manufacturers of tobacco products (including even premium cigars) do not disclose the ingredients in their products. To level the playing field, this should be a requirement for any product; to do otherwise would be to favor products that we know are harmful over those which we do not (yet).
2) Many makers of liquids are small businesses who wish to do the right thing and would be willing to comply with disclosure requirements, but who may not have the financial wherewithal to do so. In many cases, these liquid makers are like small, independent restaurants, each of whom make tasty meals that rival or surpass the larger chain restaurants. Again, over-complicated or expensive approval processes would not only stifle economic competition, but would also curtail the almost culinary creativity that goes into the design of some liquids. While safety should be paramount, perhaps consideration should be made regarding the approval of vapable ingredients, rather than the liquids as a whole.
3) As I've mentioned before, flavors are important. If my only choice was tobacco, I would still be smoking. Adults like flavors, too: hence dessert menus at restaurants, the proliferation of flavored alcohol, and even choices among smoking cessation aids. Touching on the above point, the same flavor offered by different vendors can be surprisingly different.
Thank you for your consideration.
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