Public demand for FDA recognition of e-cigarettes as "safer alternative" increases dramatically

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The White House petition website seems to be heating up over more than secession and Death Stars these days.  In fact, it's about blowing smoke – or should we say vapor? Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) consumers have submitted a petition to urge the White House to take action to prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from enacting unnecessary, burdensome regulations that could effectively ban the sale of many e-cigarettes.

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The White House required 25,000 signatures to be collected in one month to receive an answer. The petition was filed on January 14 and hit the 25,000 mark on February 6. Signatures will continue to be collected through February 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 Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (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 and 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. Unfortunately, the administration punted to the FDA, and the Agency's response was largely non-responsive. In the time since, the White House increased the number of required signatures and has just announced another increase to 100,000 signatures.

"The current petition has already collected nearly 5 times the signatures of just over a year ago. Clearly, the word is spreading that these products are successfully replacing tobacco cigarettes for hundreds of thousands of smokers, and all without any serious adverse health effects being reported to the FDA MedWatch system since the administration began to monitor their health effects in 2008."

"In spite of all of the rhetoric and scaremongering coming from the FDA and the tobacco control industry, e-cigarettes are not causing youth to start smoking, poisoning children, affecting the enforcement of smoking bans or causing any kind of public health hazard. They are being used as intended – by adult smokers looking for a far less hazardous long-term alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes," 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 explained. "It will be imperative that consumers submit comments at that time. We cannot allow the FDA to regulate a scientifically-proven safer alternative to smoking out of existence while leaving its far more hazardous cousin on the market. Anyone can see how ridiculous that would be."

Keller said that CASAA will be issuing a "Call to Action" once the FDA makes its announcement, so people who are interested are encouraged to subscribe to the CASAA email list at http://casaa.org/Become_a_Member.html

SOURCE Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association



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