WASHINGTON, DC — Yesterday, leadership in the U.S. House and Senate struck a deal on an omnibus government funding bill to keep the government operating through October. Much to the disappointment of millions of vapers and 10,000-plus small business owners, the Cole-Bishop Amendment — a critical bipartisan policy provision to save the vapor industry from prohibition by the FDA — was not included in the final bill.
Democrat leaders, who hold a great deal of power in budget negotiations due to the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and the unwillingness of some House Republicans to vote for spending bills, immediately celebrated their ‘victory’ over small businesses and ex-smokers.
“We have eliminated more than 160 Republican poison pill riders,” boasted House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, similarly celebrated the deal. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, included Cole-Bishop among the list of riders that Democrats were proud to have removed from the final bill.
“It is absolutely shameful that Democrat leaders stood in the way of this job-protecting amendment from becoming law,” said Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for the continued availability of vapor products.
“Democrats are setting themselves up to experience a reality check on vaping in the November 2018 mid-term elections,” said Conley. “The FDA’s deeming ban is set to take effect less than three months before Senate Democrats have some of their toughest election fights in years. Just as vapers helped re-elect Senator Ron Johnson, vapers will vote out Senators who stand by idly as harm reduction products are yanked from shelves.”
Conley cautioned that while Democrat leaders ultimately sunk the Cole-Bishop Amendment, it would be a mistake for vapers to blame the entire party. As of today, six House Democrats have sponsored a standalone version of the Cole-Bishop bill.
Despite the disappointment, Conley has an important message for vapers and harm reduction advocates — the fight is far from over.
“We must redouble our efforts, focusing on not only Congress, but also the executive branch,” said Conley. “If Congress refuses to act, President Trump and Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price must act to avert this oncoming disaster for public health and small businesses.”
Last week, a letter signed by over 2,000 business owners was sent to Secretary Price requesting that he take immediate action to repeal, halt, or dramatically delay the FDA’s push for vapor prohibition. Additionally, in-store campaigns in vapor retail stores have led to thousands of individual consumer letters being sent to Secretary Price.
If enacted, the Cole-Bishop Amendment would have modernized the predicate date for newly-regulated ‘tobacco’ products under the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act. The failure to pass this measure means that all vapor products that have come to market since February 15, 2007 — every single vapor product being sold today — will have to retroactively undergo a potentially multi-million dollar approval process to remain on the market.
Last year, the Royal College of Physicians released a landmark study estimating vaping to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking. Additionally, earlier this year, the University of Victoria’s Center for Addictions Research of BC published a report strongly disputing the idea that vaping is acting as a gateway to smoking for adolescents.
About the American Vaping Association
The American Vaping Association is a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that encourage the growth and sustainability of small- and medium-sized businesses in the rapidly growing vaping and electronic cigarette industry. The AVA was founded by Gregory Conley, a consumer and industry advocate with a long track record of advocating for vapor products dating back to 2010.
We are dedicated to educating the public and government officials about public health benefits offered by vapor products, which are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine or nicotine-free solution and create an inhalable vapor. The AVA is not a trade group and does not speak for any particular businesses, including our industry sponsors.