The Boys Are Back: Cole And Bishop Are At It Again

Posted by Mitch Clarke on 22nd Feb 2017

After a disappointingly unproductive close to the previous administration’s term, vapers have a glimmer of fresh hope in the form of a new piece of pro-vaping legislature to support as it passes through the valley of the shadow of death a Congress currently held by Trump and his many acolytes.

First publicly announced February 16th through a press release on Cole’s official House of Rep. homepage, Congressmen Tom Cole (R–OK-04) and Sanford Bishop (D–GA-02) have collaborated on a bill that aims to essentially save the vaping industry from a swift and merciless end by deferring the deadline for said demise. This wouldn’t be the first time such a bipartisan amendment has graced the House floor: a similar bill, designated HR 2058 and similarly introduced by Cole and Bishop, was voted upon by that term’s House Appropriations Committee and, passing with flying colors, was included in the 2017 Agricultural Appropriations budget. However, this preliminary budget couldn’t reach full approval before the new administration took effect, and because any bills without a final decision at that time must be reintroduced in the next term, HR 2058 was effectively dead in the water.

Thankfully, the tag-team dynamic duo of Cole and Bishop won’t give up on vaping that easily.

As it stands, the FDA’s “Deeming Regulation” (FDA-2014-N-0189) would put an immediate and irreconcilable damper on the activity of countless US-based manufacturers and retailers, making it extremely difficult for manufacturers to do what they do best—bring new and exciting products to market—and introduce a new level of difficulty for retailers to do what they were designed to do—converting smokers into vapers. Only products already on the market before the predicate date of February 15th, 2007 are exempt from these regulations. Because essentially 99.9% of all e-cig products currently on the market were introduced to the US in or after 2009, this exemption only applies to the most exceedingly harmful tobacco-based products such as cigarettes and pipe tobacco. All other products on the market will need to undergo a time-consuming and financially draining application process, estimated to take several million dollars and up to 5000 man-hours per product, which would without a doubt trickle down to the average consumer and make even the most affordable of products vastly overpriced.

“Vapor products offer a promising path for harm reduction for those seeking to quit or limit their smoking,” said Bishop. “This legislation would ensure the FDA’s regulatory process does not limit the availability of safer tobacco options for those seeking to make use of them.”

However, Cole and Bishop’s amendment, titled the FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017 and numbered HR 1136, seeks to drastically delay this predicate date by over a decade—specifically, “21 months after the date of enactment of FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017”, which is an exceedingly wise move that will not only give manufacturers ample time to unload their undoubtedly unprecedented collection of advanced products ready to exit R&D and enter the market, but also preserve the FDA’s self-imposed authority to regulate these products.

“While there is disagreement about whether certain tobacco products should be regulated or not, there should be agreement that new regulations should apply to products moving forward, and not retroactively,” said Rep. Cole.

Similarly to the old version, the newest Cole-Bishop amendment understandably allows for some compromises, such as imposing advertising restrictions, product standards, labeling rules, entity registration, all things that were already on the negotiations table and more-or-less accepted as fact. The immediate reaction from vapers was, as one could’ve predicted, overwhelmingly positive. Any news that gives a glimmer of hope in these dark and murky times is embraced by the vaping community as good news, and with the help of this innovative piece of legislature, the future for vaping finally looks bright.