Good news, but don’t relax

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Good news, but don’t relax

By now you probably all know how much I hate the European Union’s idiotic Tobacco Products Directive. Actually I hate almost everything about the EU, but the TPD is definitely the rancid icing on that particular cake of shit. I can only think of one positive thing to say about it, which is that it’s not quite as bad as what the FDA is doing on the other side of the Atlantic.

The FDA’s Deeming Regulations are a classic example of why anyone who wants to regulate things probably shouldn’t be allowed to. Imagine what would happen if you got a load of hyperactive monkeys, fed them laxatives then gave them a big box of those letter-shaped fridge magnets to play with; well, that’s the Deeming Regs. They truly are insane, and until yesterday morning everyone assumed they were going to wipe out the entire US e-cig market next November.

Well, that isn’t going to happen – not next year, anyway. The FDA’s new Commissioner, Dr Scott Gottlieb, announced on Friday that he’s planning a new tobacco control strategy and wants enough time to get it right. Because he thinks vaping might have a part to play in that strategy – which is definitely good news – he’s pushing back the deadline for product authorisations from November 2018 to August 2022. It still won’t be legal to put any new products on the market without spending about six months and eleventy squillion dollars on paperwork first, but at least all the existing stuff can stay in the shops for another four years.

Understandably, US vapers are quite happy about this; Armageddon just got kicked a little bit further down the road. A couple of celebratory drinks are definitely in order. But this is not the end of the story. There are still plenty of massive problems with the Deeming Regs, and while the deadline extension was welcome news, other parts of Gottlieb’s speech weren’t so reassuring. So while vaping advocates have something to feel good about today, we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball.

Someone, dunno who, has posted a more detailed analysis of Gottlieb’s announcement on the Black Note blog. I’d suggest everyone has a read of that to remind themselves what’s still at stake. Then crack open another cold one and celebrate – but when your hangover clears up tomorrow afternoon, get ready to continue the fight. Because it’s not over yet.