Plumes of Praise, Puffs of Pain

FDA's proposed OTP deeming regs receive mixed reaction

Mitch Morrison, Vice President of Retailer Relations

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

FDA OTP tobacco (CSP Daily News / CSPnet / Convenience Store Petroleum)

WASHINGTON -- Two comments underscore the tension permeating the tobacco world after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released its long-awaited proposed deeming regulations that would give it jurisdiction of other tobacco products (OTP) such as electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco.

With little doubt, most of the commentary and media interest surrounded the burgeoning e-cig/e-vaping sector.

"It appears that the FDA is taking a science-based approach, and that the proposed rule itself defines a constructive process that recognizes that e-cigarettes are different than combustible cigarettes."

This favorable comment from Murray Kessler, head of the country's third-largest maker of combustible cigarettes, Lorillard, and No. 1 e-cig, blu, reflects the positive vibes shared among most major cigarette and e-cig players.

Then there's the pro-vaping advocates, the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA). While the group backs FDA's efforts to ban underage sales of all tobacco products and to require ingredient listings and appropriate product labeling, SFATA argues that noncombustible products must be treated differently.

"The proposed regulations make clear the agency's intent to regulate all products in the same way, including vaporization and e-cigarette products that contain nicotine," the group's statement said. "While there is a need for appropriate and proportionate regulation of vaporizers and e-cigarettes, these products represent a new and unique category. They are technology products, not tobacco products. Trying to squeeze an innovative vapor product into a regulatory structure that was designed for traditional combustible and oral tobacco products is simply not appropriate."

Not Five Years Ago

Nearly five years after Congress granted the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco products, the agency released plans on Thursday to assume oversight of cigars, pipe tobacco and the rapidly burgeoning universe of electronic nicotine devices headlined by e-cigs; however, unlike the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act of 2009, FDA's newest initiative, the proposed deeming regulations, did not elicit the near-universal outcry across the tobacco landscape.