WASHINGTON -- The vaping industry received encouraging news as a subcommittee within the House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture approved a bill with language that may ease U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules on electronic cigarettes and vaping products, according to tobacco-industry resource Halfwheel.com.
Language within the U.S. House of Representatives’ agricultural appropriations bill for fiscal 2018 would change the so-called “predicate date,” the date from which products can be grandfathered into a less restrictive FDA application process, from Feb. 15, 2007, to Aug. 8, 2016. The 2007 date is a damaging end point for e-cigarettes and vaping products, because most were not on the market back then. If not grandfathered in before that predicate date, vaping, cigar and other tobacco products would have to undergo a rigorous and expensive FDA application process to stay on or go to market.
The 2007 date is particularly challenging to the vaping industry because that is the year e-cigs were introduced in the United States. Requiring a strict review of all product since then would effectively gut the market.
The appropriations bill passed by subcommittee on June 27 must gain approval from the full Appropriations Committee and then both the full House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature, Halfwheel reported. The bill also has language that pulls large and premium cigars out from under FDA jurisdiction.
Still, the bill is not the only ongoing attempt to change the FDA’s predicate date, said Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, Hoboken, N.J. He noted one particular effort started earlier this year, with Reps. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) and Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia) mounting a stand-alone bill dubbed the Cole-Bishop Amendment. The lawmakers had been developing similar legislation for the past several years, with this being their latest version.
Conley said he supports the agricultural appropriation bill but believes the new version of the Cole-Bishop Amendment has a better chance of surviving the legislative process. In the past, House Democrats have looked down on vaping and changes to the predicate date.
The new Cole-Bishop Amendment has new language that includes flavored e-liquids. In doing so, the bill would allow the FDA jurisdiction over e-liquid flavors, something Democrats may appreciate but the vaping industry frowns upon, Conley said. However, he said the FDA already has authority over vaping and, as a result, could already impose something as radical as a flavor ban. Secondly, a Trump administration—presumably pro-business—will still have influence over vaping in the coming years, and may wield its influence over this critical decision-making time frame.
“It is imperative that the predicate date is modified before Nov. 8, 2018, our prohibition [deadline],” Conley told CSP Daily News, referring to the day when essentially all vaping manufacturers would have to have filed applications with the FDA. “So while we may not be fully satisfied with every provision of the [new Cole-Bishop Amendment], it is a positive step.”