Irrespective of one’s personal opinions of President Donald Trump, it is difficult to deny his tremendous success in cutting job-killing red tape holding back large sections of the economy. Trump made deregulation a key focus of his 2016 presidential campaign, declaring, “we're going to cancel every needless job-killing regulation and put a moratorium on new regulations until our economy gets back on its feet.” And, for the most part, President Trump has held true to that promise.
In his first three years in office, more than eight regulations were repealed for every new rule implemented. The result was nothing short of spectacular, with an unprecedented economic boom and employment figures virtually unparalleled in modern U.S. history. The benefits have disproportionately accrued to lower-and-middle income earners, as well as minority populations who experienced the strongest wage growth in decades. Despite large sections of the economy shuttering due to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, continued deregulation paved the way for the surge in new jobs in July and August.
Given this extraordinary track-record, it beggars belief that President Trump would support a new regulation that would shutter 14,000 small businesses in the U.S., cost more than 100,000 jobs, and have sweeping negative impacts on public health. Yet these consequences are the inevitable outcome of a new directive by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) slated to come into force on September 9.
In order to fully comprehend the tragedy that is unfurling, it is first necessary to understand how the FDA has chosen to regulate reduced risk tobacco alternatives designed to help smokers quit. The most common of these harm reduction products are e-cigarettes, which have played a key role in smoking cessation.
E-cigarettes are proven to be 95 percent safer than traditional combustible cigarettes. It’s easy to understand why – almost all carcinogens from smoking stem from the “burning” of tobacco. E-cigarettes function by diluting nicotine with water and turning the mixture into vapor, resulting in no smoke. And without smoke, most cancer-causing agents are absent. As such, e-cigarettes are effectively as safe as more traditional nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gums. But because they still mimic the smoking experience, vapes have been found to be three times more effective than more traditional cessation therapies. As a result of these products, smoking rates have plummeted to their lowest level in history. In addition, regular smoking by high school students has become practically non-existent.
To cater to the demand for these life-saving products, 14,000 small business vape shops have emerged across the country. Most produce their own liquids, empowering consumers wanting to make the switch to vaping to experiment with what works for them best. This innovation and variety allow products to be tailored to the needs of individual customers, resulting in significant success for the industry.
But due to impending FDA regulations, this life-saving industry will surely grind to a screeching halt. Starting on September 9, each and every one of these small businesses will need to undertake a costly, multi-year long scientific testing process. This onerous ordeal will include human trials (!) for each and every variety of product sold, as well as separate tests for each product strength level. Every small business has dozens, if not hundreds, of such products. The FDA conservatively estimates that the cost for each application would be “around $117,000 to around $466,000,″ resulting in total costs in the tens of millions of dollars per vape shop. This bill would prove impossible for a family business to pay.
As a result, almost every single vape store in the United States will shut down and millions of people will return to smoking combustible cigarettes. And while some vapes will remain on the market, they will overwhelmingly be sold by companies who have the resources to pay compliance costs.
While Health and Human Services Secretary Azar has promised on numerous occasions to “streamline” the process, so far no help has been forthcoming. And, absent drastic intervention, it looks highly likely that this entire industry will be decimated. Vapers are also highly motivated, single-issue voters. With 13 million vapers nationally, their numbers are greater than the margin of error in every swing state in the U.S. Thus, this decision to impose strict regulations would not only prove disastrous for the economy and for public health, but also for President Trump’s re-election chances.
President Trump, who has previously supported these life-saving products, must now get personally involved. Doing so will save more than 100,000 jobs, millions of lives, and quite possibly his chance at re-election.
Tim Andrews is a Senior Fellow for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.