Amid Regulatory Pressure, E-Cigarette Group Launches First Fly-In
With the industry facing calls for regulation at the city, state, and federal levels, the association representing electronic cigarette makers aimed to gain ground in Washington this week with its first legislative fly-in.
Should electronic cigarettes be regulated the same way as traditional tobacco products?
With state and local legislation looking to lump the devices in with traditional tobacco products and pressure building in Congress, many lawmakers say yes.
But the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), a group that represents e-cigarette makers, hopes its budding industry can avoid that fate. To that end, SFATA has built itself into a lobbying force. It had the chance to show some of that force this week with its first legislative fly-in. More details:
About the fly-in: The association had 30 of its members fly in to meet with members of Congress on Monday and Tuesday, discuss proposed bills, and give an overview on current regulations. “It is a concerted effort to make the business case for electronic cigarettes to Congress,” said Cynthia Cabrera, SFATA’s executive director, in comments to The Hill. “It’s the perfect time for us to go and provide the faces to this industry.”
An uphill battle: The manufacturers’ push comes at a time when many lawmakers are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to take action at the federal level and a number of states already have regulated the devices. Just last week, New York City passed a ban on selling tobacco to smokers younger than age 21—a ban that included e-cigarettes. But seeing the direction the debate is taking, the industry has beefed up its lobbying efforts, with SFATA members studying the issues surrounding e-cigarettes and sharing details with their members of Congress during the fly-in. Industry publication eCig Advanced noted, based on information shared with lawmakers at the fly-in, that there likely will be challenges concerning regulation due to the differences between e-cigarettes and traditional products.
While health groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Lung Association are pushing for more regulation due to potential health risks of smoking, research is still being done on e-cigarettes, which were first launched in the Chinese market in 2004. At least one recent study shows they aren’t a gateway to smoking among teens.