Legislators need to support vape industry, too

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While I am pleased that elected officials in Washington seized the opportunity to support the recreational marijuana industry by pushing back against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ roll-back of the Justice Department’s legal marijuana policies, I wish they would defend the vaping industry with the same vigor by demonstrating their support for the Cole-Bishop Act.

As the owner of a homegrown e-liquid manufacturer, as well as a recently opened brick and mortar vape shop in Lakewood, and through my many years of advocacy work as vice president of the Pink Lung Brigade, I know first-hand that the vaping community is in support of common-sense regulations, promoting safety, and keeping products available to shop owners and our customers.

For example, the Pink Lung Brigade has spoken to the governor’s health panel on the importance of child-resistant caps and proper labeling, and currently Pink Lung Brigade members and business owners had been self-regulating prior to any proposed legislation.

However last year, the FDA finalized the “Deeming Rule” that extended their authority to include e-cigarettes, vape pens, and all the components that go into them such as batteries and e-liquids, like the ones I manufacture here in Washington.

As a key part of this rule, all of these products will have to go through an extremely difficult, expensive and lengthy re-approval process if they were not on the market before 2007. For the majority of the small vape shops that opened after 2007 and operate in our state, this would kill their business.

We need the Cole-Bishop Act now!

Without Cole-Bishop, small vape retailers and manufacturers like me will have to pay approximately $1 million per product we produce. That would be fiscal prohibition. It would spawn an underground, unregulated black market and that would negatively impact our state’s economy because of the losses in tax revenue and jobs. Vapers would lose out on the regulated products they enjoy and rely on.

Swift approval of the Cole-Bishop Act would clarify the FDA’s rules on vaping, and provide fair and effective regulations, without undermining the FDA’s regulatory authority over newly deemed products.

The Cole-Bishop Act would also go the very important extra mile of creating common-sense regulations for vapor products, which include:

  • Require “keep out of reach of children” and “underage sale prohibited” language on labeling
  • Restrict advertising of vapor products only to publications that meet FDA’s existing regulatory criteria of an adult only publications
  • Prohibit self-service displays of vapor products;
  • Require nicotine content to be labeled on all vapor products packaging;
  • Require vapor retailers to register with the FDA

Please join me in urging elected officials at all levels – but especially Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray – to support the vape industry as vigorously as recreational marijuana, by casting their support for the Cole-Bishop Act.

Marc Jarrett is vice president of the Pink Lung Brigade (www.PinkLungBrigade.org) and owner of Banzai Vapors in Lakewood. 

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