Sunday 17 February 2013

How Politicians Will Likely Scupper E-Cigs, No Matter How They Are Finally Regulated

This is quite sinister and could well be our future.
Two bills recently introduced in Congress would substantially increase federal excise taxes on tobacco products, and probably allow the imposition of new federal excise taxes on e-cigarettes.
Taxes on e-cigs? Why?
Senate Bill 194 would: 
Authorize the Treasury Department to impose federal excise taxes on e-cigarettes (also at a rate equivalent to cigarettes) if FDA deems e-cigarettes to be “tobacco products.”
OK, here's the state of play. Pharma smoking cessation products like patches and gum are close to useless, their success rate has been measured at around 1.6%.

We have to consider pharma's problem, though, as former ASH Director Clive Bates does very well. Here, in stupid, risk-terrified, statist detail are the hoops pharma has to jump through to market "medicinal products" which enable smokers to quit.

The explosion in e-cig usage shows conclusively that their efficacy is vastly in excess of anything big pharma could ever hope to achieve. They are bought freely - despite regular scare tactics from tobacco control, in fact - and are not available on prescription like NRT often is. Additionally, this has been without TV advertising until very recently and with no tax-funded campaigns/schemes/programs directing smokers towards them.

Those who aren't irretrievably insane understand this and would like to see light touch regulation rather than the kind of stuff pharma has to go through which - it has to be said - probably renders their products almost useless by government design. Regulating e-cigs along the same lines (as a medical product) - with all that that demands - would make them so expensive that vapers would be back on the baccy before you could say "you silly, silly sods".

As we see above, it looks like pharma have put their thinking caps on and lobbied for their Plan B. If e-cigs are not to be regulated as medicinal devices, they would be classed as "tobacco products". A small tweak in legislation via statutory instrument to make them taxable on the same terms as Silk Cut and the threat is neutralised.

If taxation means that vaping ends up costing the same as smoking tobacco, it would drive their success rate down considerably (though I doubt it would be quite as pathetic as 1.6%). So, despite spending millions of our taxes trying to get us to stop smoking, it looks like the state will destroy e-cigs by regulating them into obscurity or - if that fails - by taxing them out of existence.

It would not, of course, ever occur to the political class to reduce regulations for patches and gum to the same level as that for e-cigs and let the market fight it out.

D'you see why I've always said that it's never been about health? And, when it comes to e-cigs, why politicians are a dangerous disease in a category of their own.


Mr A said...

Disgusting. Yet oh so unsurprising. Sterling work DP!

JonathanBagley said...

Taxing them would be very difficult. A battery lasts 6 months and can be bought anywhere in the world. PG is used for disco smoke. A year's supply of concentrated eliquid is only 400ml.

CRobinso said...

And, at least here in Canada, most of us are stockpiling juice for just such a case.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

There are some more interesting comments relating to my article on this thread.

Fr. Jack Kearney said...

Fortunately predicts 194 will go nowhere:
3% chance of getting past committee.
0% chance of being enacted.

Tatty said...

2011 A01468. Prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors;
prohibits distribution or sale of ANY ITEM CONTAINING or delivering
NICOTINE that is not defined by law as a tobacco product or approved by
the United States food and drug administration for sale as

(Capitalisation mine)

OMGLOLZWTFBBQ ? They actually tried to ban most of the food on the entire planet ? What...just in case ?

Now *that's* desperation...

Tatty said...

The only part of an e-cigarette that is "tobacco product" is the small amount of nicotine in the e-liquid. The rest is "a component" that *may* be used to build a viable e-cigarette.

Now... I've lost count of the times I've seen mobile phones used a bomb component so why haven't mobile phones been outright banned as "terrorist products".

Ooops....I shouldn't give them ideas...

SGParkinson said...

They won't and can't ban e-cigarettes. What are they gonna ban? A battery? An atomizer? It's ridiculous! The only thing they can do is regulate nicotine either as a tobacco product or a medical product. Either way, e-cig vendors are completely done for...

...but so are Pharma AND Big Tobacco because people will just start importing the components to make their own from China. Customs will probably find only a small amount of imported nicotine from which people import. Vapers will still communicate though forums and there'll be another criminal black market to worry about, sucking money from the economy.

If politicians and the FDA have any sense they'll let Trading Standards regulate the industry. Cigarettes are gonna die out soon, and so will NRT as a result, so why not embrace electronic vapourizers now?

As for all that nonsense about how the fruit and candy flavours may attract children, does that mean they're gonna ban any sweet flavoured alcohol? Surely this attracts children to Alcohol?