E-Cig Group's White House Petition Gaining Support

Garners, surpasses required number of signatures

WASHINGTON -- The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), on behalf of electronic cigarette consumers, recently posted a petition on the White House petition website to urge action to prevent the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) from enacting "unnecessary, burdensome regulations that could effectively ban the sale of many e-cigarettes."

The White House required 25,000 signatures to be collected in one month to receive an answer. The petition was filed on Jan. 14 and hit the 25,000 mark on Feb. 6. At press time, it has 26,039 signatures. The site will continue to collect signatures through Feb. 13.

"The FDA first tried to remove all e-cigarettes from the market by calling them 'drug delivery devices'," said Elaine Keller , president of the CASAA, a non-profit, volunteer organization formed in 2009 by e-cigarette consumers to promote tobacco harm reduction policies.

"Having failed in their attempt to ban e-cigarettes, the FDA has announced its intent to propose a 'deeming' regulation to apply Chapter IX of the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act to e-cigarettes," said Keller. "However, portions of Chapter IX would essentially ban all e-cigarettes from being sold and other provisions would decimate the e-cigarette industry, protect cigarette markets and otherwise threaten public health."

In 2011, consumers submitted a petition that called on the Obama administration to "Recognize electronic cigarettes as an effective alternative to smoking and support job creation in this new industry." The petition garnered 6,000 signatures--well over the 5,000 required at that time, said CASAA. The administration deferred to the FDA, and the agency's response was "largely nonresponsive," said the group.

"The current petition has already collected nearly five times the signatures of just over a year ago," said Keller.

Based on the previous White House response, Keller said that she and most tobacco harm reduction experts and advocates are not optimistic about receiving a markedly different response from the White House or FDA this time around; however, CASAA is still encouraging people to sign the petition.

"CASAA believes the petition will help heighten awareness about the upcoming FDA public comment period, which is expected to be opened after the FDA announces its intended regulations sometime around April," Keller said. "It will be imperative that consumers submit comments at that time."

Keller said that CASAA will be issuing a "Call to Action" once the FDA makes its announcement.