The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for “protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, the food supply, cosmetics and products that emit radiation.” In doing so, they monitor and regulate various industries including cosmetics, alcohol, tobacco as well as most food products and dietary supplements. Alcoholic beverages in particular are monitored by several different federal agencies including the FDA. Other agencies that also monitor and regulate various aspects of the alcohol industry include the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Although the food, alcohol and narcotic industries are regulated by different federal agencies, they all have one end-goal: to keep Americans safe and to promote innovation.
A recent Wall Street Journal article examined the alcohol industry’s booming popularity in sweet and candy-flavored alcoholic beverages. Not only does the federal government permit various flavored alcoholic beverages for public consumption, but they also allow them to be readily available at a diverse set of public places including sports events, concerts and other entertainment events. In addition, alcoholic products are also being marketed with the help of millions and billions of dollars across mass mediums including cable television channels, social media, radio and print outlets.
For many e-cigarette consumers, business owners and advocates, the playing field for the consumption and promotion of alcoholic beverages appears uneven compared to the nicotine industry. Although tobacco, nicotine and alcohol products are all legal in the United States (in limited amounts), alcohol brands are allowed to market and revolutionize their products in many ways that e-cigarettes cannot. This point alone has many wondering why one industry is allowed more freedom to promote and sell while the other is not.
Elected officials in Washington D.C. are currently taking the next few months to review the e-cigarette industry in preparation for possible regulation. During this time, many electronic cigarette advocates are concerned that certain anti e-cig groups that have proposed and encouraged e-cigarette bans will cause negative implications on the entire industry. In particular, some groups are proposing that flavored e-cigarettes become banned, except for Menthol and Tobacco flavors. This model is not random at all and is the precedent of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which bans “characterizing flavors of tobacco cigarettes.” SFATA and other e-cigarette advocates are questioning why the government would ban e-cigarettes with “characterizing” flavors but not sweet flavored alcohol products?
Although some uninformed outsiders are claiming that flavored e-cigarettes are appealing to under age users, the same argument could very well go for flavored alcoholic beverages. SFATA believes the opposite is true for this argument when it comes to the e-cigarette industry. From state regulations that prohibit minors from buying e-cigarettes in retail stores, to age verification software for online e-cigarette purchases, as well as voluntary age restrictions imposed by many e-cig vendors, there is little room for minors to access electronic cigarettes.
Many traditional tobacco cigarette users have stated that in the absence of flavored e-cigarettes, they would continue using tobacco containing cigarettes rather than its combustion free, smoke-free alternative. By imposing a ban on various flavored e-cigarettes, the government can also potentially impair domestic and international economic growth and take away a useful product that millions of people have found to be reliable and useful.
SFATA urges elected officials and the FDA to implement common sense e-cigarette regulation in the U.S. by allowing innovation and access to this technology. SFATA believes parallels exist between the e-cig industry and the alcohol industry and calls for a judicious and cautious legislative movement by the federal government. For more e-cigarette industry tips, advice and updates, follow SFATA on Twitter and “Like” the official SFATA Facebook Fan Page!