Democrats are enabling a dangerous addiction that kills no less than 443,000 Americans each year. They’re making it harder to quit smoking and they’re bragging about it.
The ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., recently released a white paper trumpeting the fact that a coming spending bill “does not include a House provision allowing thousands of unregulated tobacco products to escape full FDA review.”
No doubt, Big Tobacco is breathing a bit easier. The announcement will short-circuit the efforts of their e-cigarette competitors to get their product on the shelves of convenience stores. As a result, smokers will continue to reach for traditional cancer sticks instead of a less dangerous electronic substitute.
Let’s be clear though. While Democrats are wrong to torch the vaping industry, that doesn’t make e-cigarettes cool. Audrey Hepburnat breakfast, Clint Eastwood in the West, and freedom fighters in front of a firing squad don’t blow electronic smoke. The devices are ugly and tacky. At the same time, they are significantly less dangerous than a pack of smokes.
Ultimately, there’s no sex appeal to e-cigarettes, just health benefits. Because they vaporize nicotine with a miniature battery-operated heater, people aren’t exposed to the same level of toxins they’d experience if they lit up. So while calling them safe is a stretch, describing them as less toxic really is a fact.
According to the Queen of England’s Public Health department, e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes. Kenneth Warner, a policy analyst at the University of Michigan, walked that number back during an interview with WebMd, saying electronic smokes are “80 to 85 percent less dangerous at least.”
But they’re still expensive and less accessible, in large part, because of regulation. Democrats just ensured that e-cigarettes must go through what’s called the Pre-Market Tobacco Application Process.
The FDA demands that tobacco applicants must not only demonstrate that their product is safe, they must show how it’s “beneficial to the population as a whole.” Compliance costs can cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars and there’s no guarantee of success. Meanwhile, the population is blowing more dangerous smoke.
And that’s a problem because Big Tobacco is on the rise. Despite cancer, social stigma, and legal settlements, the industry is rolling in cash. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that revenues are up 32 percent or $93.4 billion since last year.
And now Democrats just made it that much harder for e-cigarette companies to compete with the Marlboro Man.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.
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