The Grandfather Date: What This Could Mean for the Vaping Industry

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The clock is ticking towards a potential doomsday for the American vaping industry. The pending language of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s updated deeming regulations would classify e-cigs as new tobacco products, which means that every e-cig and e-liquid manufacturer would be required to submit an application to the FDA for each product before they can legally sell them online or in stores.

Fortunately, the FDA has included a “grandfather date” to exempt e-cigs that went to market before a specific date. Unfortunately, that date is February 15, 2007, when 99 percent of current e-cig products didn’t exist. Therefore, virtually all e-cigs could suddenly become illegal until their FDA applications are fully approved, a process that would take several months if not years.

Proposed Grandfather Date Could Snuff Out E-Cig Industry

FDA and the PMTA grandfather date

The grandfather date is the e-cigarette industry’s version of the Y2K problem. When the FDA at long last expands its deeming regulations to cover e-cigs, vaping innovation in America may have to completely start over. Each and every e-cig device, e-liquid flavor and nicotine strength could soon require a Pre-Market Tobacco Application. Each application costs thousands of dollars, so very few companies could even afford to have their products reviewed.

The FDA would also likely do its best to keep flavored e-liquids off the market. The negative consequences of the currently proposed grandfather date cannot be understated. Thankfully, there is sizable support for e-cigs in the U.S., and many vaping advocates are fighting for a more sensible compromise.

The Push For A Revised Grandfather Date

U.S. Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) has introduced a bill that would push the FDA’s grandfather date to the day that e-cigs legally become tobacco products. Therefore, new vape products would be subject to FDA approval, but e-cigs and e-liquids that are already being sold can remain on the market. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee has also approved a bill that forbids the FDA from using federal funds to enforce the grandfather date unless the date is moved much closer to the present. However, nothing is for certain at this moment, so now is the time for e-cig supporters to speak up.

Everyone who makes or sells e-cigs should directly call their congressional representatives to explain the devastating impact a 2007 grandfather date will have on their businesses. Furthermore, let congress know that the vaping industry is creating thousands of jobs across the country while potentially decreasing the public harm posed by tobacco smoke. In addition to local representatives, vape supporters should write or call the offices of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton.

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, or CASAA, has put together a form letter that e-cig advocates can easily send to congress. The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association and the American Vaping Association also have valuable resources for vape shop owners, e-cig makers and tobacco harm reduction advocates.

Other Suggested Grandfather Dates for E-Cigs

Ideally, the grandfather date should be the day that the new regulations actually take effect. Some other alternative dates have been proposed, such as April 25, 2011. On that day, the FDA officially acknowledged a court decision that classified e-cigs as tobacco products and claimed authority over e-cigs under the deeming regulations. Another date is April 25, 2014, which is when the newly proposed deeming regulations became available for public comment.

Since the majority of legit studies have suggested e-cigs to be exponentially safer than tobacco, there’s no reason to hold e-cig products to the same scrutiny as traditional cigarettes. The FDA’s job is to protect public health, and one way to do that would be to embrace the devices that have the potential to help people quit smoking and eliminate second-hand smoke from the environment. This moment, now more than ever, is a pivotal time for American vapers to talk about the science in support of e-cigs, take pride in their decisions to vape and reach out to government officials to help secure the right to vape on.