Fighting for your right to vape.
At the state level, Illinois has had little activity since the pandemic began. However, at the national level the fight never stopped. September 9th 2020 was the deadline for companies to submit Pre Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) to FDA. This deadline has been looming since 8/8/2016 which was the cut off for products to be introduced to the market. Since 2016 the industry has fought for delays and guidance. How should a vapor product conform to a process that was set up for combustible tobacco? How could an industry built on start ups and small business play by the norms of big tobacco and big money lobbyists? Huge strides were made to compile data and many businesses were able to submit PMTA's for their products. This was a time consuming and costly process that involved survey data, HPHC testing, and copious amounts of data to prove that a smoker's access to vapor products is beneficial to public health.
The FDA was given a year to review the submissions and has proven it's unpreparedness to do so at every step of the way. A list of companies who had PMTA submissions under review was not available for 7 months after the September 2020 deadline. Leading up to FDA's 9/9/2021 deadline only a handful of Market Denial Orders (MDO) had been issued. Some of these were to companies that had recently been told they had passed muster to be admitted to "substantial review". But the goal post had moved. The MDO's claimed that the PMTA submissions did not sufficiently argue that the benefit of public health for smokers outweighed the risk of youth access. These terms were not explicitly addressed to applicants prior to the MDO. The organizations and companies who had been speaking with FDA throughout the process were told they would not need longitudinal studies on this particular data point.
We essentially have reached a Federal Flavor Ban.
RJ Reynolds was granted marketing orders for their Vuse Solo 4.8% (48mg) Tobacco.
They are the only company that was granted a marketing order as of this writing. There has not been a determination on Juul products as of right now, over month past the deadline for FDA to act.
On top of this, Congress is considering an egregious tax on vapor products that they claim is to create equity with the tax on combustible tobacco. We know that there is no equity when you are comparing these products.
As always, we encourage you to act. Please see our Call to Action page for more details on how you can become, and stay involved.
After a very intense Veto Session we are proud to announce that we were successful in squashing a potential flavor ban in Illinois in 2019. All over the country there are Governor's issuing executive action to ban flavors immediately in their state. An even bigger threat, was that the Illinois Legislature would pass a LAW banning flavors. But we put in the work, attending all 6 days of session in Springfield and calling and emailing reps asking them to OPPOSE A FLAVOR BAN. We could not have done this alone and the support from our Cloud Family absolutely made the difference. Your voices were heard!
We expect that another push to limit access to these harm reduction products will be initiated in 2020. It is imperative that we keep up the pressure and continue to educate our local lawmakers on how helpful these products are, and the importance of flavors, in getting adults away from combustible cigarettes.
The 2019 Legislative session was a busy one! Bills were introduced in both chambers that would raise the age to purchase tobacco products and *VAPOR PRODUCTS* to 21 years old. House Bill 345 passed both chambers and was sent to the Governor on 3/20/2019. Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law and starting JULY 1ST you must be 21 years or older to purchase all tobacco products and vapor products in the state of Illinois.
Bills have also been introduced to add e-cigarettes to the Smoke Free Illinois Act (SB1864) and the Tobacco Products Tax Act of 1995 (SB1124). There was even a total Flavor Ban introduced via amendment to SB222 that we were able to mobilize and fight against. With your help, we fought like hell to keep vapor products unrestricted, hoping to at least carve out allowances for vape shops to allow vaping indoors and to keep taxes minimal. While the Smoke Free Illinois Act (Indoor Air Ban) stalled, a 15% wholesale tax was imposed through budget negotiations.
We are STILL working with our legislators in Springfield on these issues. On March 13th Reid and Bridget spent the day at the Capitol advocating for vapor products. In the months since we have made meaningful contacts with lawmakers. While regular session has adjourned will continue to stay on top of these issues and will be rolling out calls to action as new developments arise.
There is one thing that is for sure, politics is a participation sport. And everyone can agree you need to keep up with your conditioning in the off season. So if you see your local lawmakers out and about this summer, say hello and introduce yourself and remind them that vaping is keeping you or someone you love away from smoking.
FDA has announced proposed rulemaking for flavors. The comment period is now over. Unfortunately the process was compromised by spammers, but after sorting through all the comments not everything was thrown out. Watch this video from Regulator Watch for more info.
Statement from the FDA, March 13th 2019
FDA is proposing to end current compliance policy as it applies to flavored electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products such as electronic cigarettes (other than tobacco-, mint-, and menthol-flavored products), and prioritize enforcement of such products offered for sale in ways that pose a greater risk for minors to access these tobacco products.
In addition, FDA expects manufacturers of all flavored ENDS products (other than tobacco-, mint-, and menthol-flavored) that remain on the market under these new conditions to submit premarket applications to the agency by Aug. 8, 2021. This application date is one year earlier than the agency previously proposed. See full statement here.
At Cool Clouds, we are always trying to keep you, the consumer, informed of the various goings ons in the industry. And over the last few years there have been more than our fair share of uphill battles.
When we opened in 2014, vape was really starting to become more mainstream. Our Evergreen Park location opened along with dozens of other shops in the Chicagoland area. It became very apparent that the industry was going to be put under a microscope. The threats of regulation started coming in from all directions.
In the Fall of 2015 Reid worked to mobilize shops and consumers against a .20 per mililiter tax on eliquid in Cook County. While we did not win that fight we did avoid having it doubled at the last hour. Chicago was fighting it's own .55 per ml tax at the time and also lost. Just as the tax was being implemented in May of 2016 the FDA announced it's deeming rules. This move brought vapor products (eliquids and electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS) under the Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Between fall of 2015 and spring of 2016 we witnessed Chicago Public Health launch an anti vaping campaign that would stop smokers in their tracks - from a quit smoking New Years resolution that is. And we had lawmakers in Springfield pushing to increase the age to purchase tobacco and vapor products to 21 years old.
Spring of 2016 was when we banded together with some other local industry folks and launched Vaping Truth Juice. The branding was a mirror to the shameful campaign pushed by the health organizations, and the funds raised went to support our lobbying efforts in Springfield. It wasn't just T21 laws we had to worry about. Flavor bans and indoor vaping bans had been introduced the previous year. We were constantly watching to make sure those weren't also introduced on the local level.
When it came time to start a new state advocacy organization, we stepped up. SFACOIL was launched in August 2016. And when offered the opportunity to lobby on Capital Hill with the national advocacy organizations, we seized the chance. Our trips to Washington, D.C. in 2016 and 2017 have facilitated some amazing friendships. Our most recent trip to Springfield in March of 2019 fostered new relationships with lawmakers and other vapor industry businesses. It is these relationships that help us fight for your right to vape.
Though we received some reprieve with regulation deadlines, the FDA has announced a plan to regulate flavors. Many states are fighting huge tax bills. Many more localities are falling to indoor air bans and T21 ordinances. There is always something knocking at our door. We remain committed to informing you on these issues and encourage you to join us in fighting for unrestricted access to the harm reduction method of our choosing, VAPOR.