The White House has significantly modified proposed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tobacco regulations, so that the online sale of e-cigarettes is not restricted, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Charged with analyzing the economic implications of policy, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) looked in detail at the FDA draft, which had included a prohibition of non-face-to-face sales, in effect banning online sales.
OMB changed the language, so that the ban applies only to vending machines. Due to lobbying from the cigar industry, OMB also addressed cigars, modifying the existing two-part rule which separates regulated from unregulated into a two-option rule, which exempts premium cigars.
The cigar industry’s concerns were voiced by 24 Republican legislators in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “As you know, premium cigars are a niche product with an adult consumer base, much like fine wines. The majority of people who enjoy a cigar do so occasionally, often in social or celebratory settings,” they said.
In response back in April, Erika Sward, assistance vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association was concerned. “The part of the proposal we are deeply troubled by is the sweetheart deal for the cigar industry,” she said.
Despite recent Senate hearings regarding the safety of e-cigarettes, various health concerns were also removed by the OMB. Additionally, requirements that would mandate reviewing variable nicotine content, poor quality control, and a chemical used in e-cigarettes called diethylene glycol, have all been removed. According to the FDA, diethylene glycol is a chemical that has caused mass poisonings.
Associated cost-benefit analyses have also been deleted. One deleted economic analysis in particular, regarding premium cigar exemptions, calculated that the exemption would save manufacturers anywhere from $1 million to $3 million. However, the resulting cost on public health would range from $32.6 million to $34.2 million.