Our Letter to PA Senator Bob Casey

Dear Senator Casey,

Thank you for your reply.  I would like to take a few moments of your time to share my story with you.  I was a cigarette smoker for over 20 years.  I turned to ecigarettes after I lost my brother to cancer at the age of 43.  I was never able to quit by any other means and ecigarettes helped me replace my addiction with one that I consider to be less harmful.  At the time I made the change I was borderline COPD due to my 3 pack a day habit.  Now, I have regained my lung function and I can only hope that my 20+ years of smoking do not result in cancer or heart disease as I get older.

The thing that no one seems to understand is that electronic cigarettes are not a tobacco product.  A case can be made that because they contain nicotine that is extracted from tobacco, then they are a tobacco product, however there is no case for vapor products that do not contain nicotine.  This is the equivalent of calling an asthma inhaler or a steam mask for allergies a tobacco product.  If there is no nicotine, there is no tobacco…period.

The fact that manufacturers are being required to label products that do not contain any component that has any connection to tobacco with either “This product contains nicotine.  Nicotine is an addictive substance.” or the alternative “This product is made from tobacco.” is essentially requiring manufacturers to place highly inaccurate statements on these products and flat out lie to consumers. It is this type of thing that has lead the vaping community to believe that the FDA does not have any idea what they are doing in regards to these products.  We are already seeing coil packages with these warning labels on them and they contain a metal case, a metal wire and organic cotton.  How is this a tobacco product?  Why should this item display either of these statements when they could be used to vape nicotine free liquids?

The most understood thing here is the regulations as they stand will destroy the industry, leaving only a few very large brands that are mostly owned by big tobacco.  They will be the only manufacturers that will be able to afford to get their products through premarket approval.  My company is small.  There is no way that we could get one product approved at the estimated cost of $104,000,000 (315 variants X $330,000 each) let alone all 85 of our current product offerings.  We have reached out to the FDA numerous times for help from their Small Business assistance, but we have yet to speak to anyone at the FDA, or receive any assistance, or even a phone call in return.  We have come to accept that the FDA will put us out of our current business within the next two years.

We have begun to transition to a DIY (Do It Yourself) business.  This is where we believe the market will go once the finished products are eliminated from the marked.  This type of business is not as lucrative and would involve consumers mixing their own finished products in their homes.  This is an extremely dangerous practice as consumers will be handling highly concentrated forms of nicotine (typically 100 mg/ml).  This form of products, as stated by the FDA, will not be regulated because they are not finished products intended for use as is by the consumer.  There is already a danger to children and pets with parents leaving finished products of 3 or 6 mg/ml unattended.  Now imagine a concentration that is so strong that one drop in the mouth will give a full grown adult heart palpitations in a matter of minutes.  There are consumers that do this currently and most have educated themselves enough to take common sense measure to protect themselves when handling these materials, but when there is no other option in a few years, more and more vapers will be force to go this route.  There will be headlines and outrage when children die from nicotine poisoning.

Now I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom here, but this can all be solved by simply giving the manufacturers a real option to get their products approved for the market.  Why is the burden of cost passed along to the manufacturer?  The FDA/CDC/Surgeon General has yet to prove that these products pose any danger to public health and many government agencies have taken steps to bury any information to the contrary.  The fact that the percentage of Americans that believe that vaping is just as dangerous as cigarettes has risen over the last few years is proof that the government has the power to change perception.  Unfortunately this change in perception is preventing some from saving their own lives as I have done.

All we ask is for the FDA to prove that there is a need for regulation due to public heath risks before regulations proceed.  If this is proven, then provide an option for all companies big and small to get their products approved to be on the market without a tremendous financial burden.

The biggest argument out there is “We must protect the kids.”  If you look deep into the studies, children who many years ago would have experimented with and possibly become addicted to cigarettes as I did, are now experimenting with vaping.  How is this a good thing?  Most of this experimentation by youth is with nicotine free liquids.  This means that there is no chance for addiction.  I personally started smoking when I was 16.  I often wonder how my life may have been different if there was a nicotine free option when I was young.  I could have still done the “cool” thing and not been exposed to years of addiction and financial burden of constantly needing to purchase expensive cigarettes.

The bottom line is that vaping could save hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide.  It could reduce the cost of healthcare by reducing the instances of cancer and heart disease among smokers.  And yet here we are today with these products being vilified by the government agency that is supposed to be there to protect us and the media spewing utter falsehoods to change the public perception of vaping to the equivalent of smoking cigarettes and in the process preventing smokers from making the change to something that is at the moment safer than cigarettes.

No one out here in the real world is kidding themselves.  We are all adults making decisions in our daily lives.  We all know that we could still be facing some risk.  We all know that there may be long term effects that may not be known for 10-20 years, but there may not be as well.  As adults, that is our decision to make.  We firmly believe that eliminating this option from the market will, in the end, prove to be costly, in dollars, jobs, and most importantly lives.

Christopher Wanner
Dominant Vapor, LLC

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