Recently at the urging of my young daughter, I began making the switch from cigarettes, which I had smoked for nearly twenty years, to vaping. It has not been the easiest conversion and I still frequently cheat and smoke a classic cancer stick when either drinking or sipping morning coffee. However by simple virtue of my cutting back thanks to the nicotine and oral fixation satiation offered by my vaping mod, I have already discovered everything from increased senses of smell and taste, to improved lung and heart health during the stair climbs required to enter my apartment.
I am not alone in noting this sort of improvement as thousands if not millions of others have made or attempted to make the same switch in lieu of outright quitting tobacco altogether. So it was to some sincere level of surprise then that when speaking with the owner of the vaporizer shop and learning more about the recently introduced regulatory moves by the federal government, that I was reminded of just how regressive and authoritarian the U.S. government can really be. This sort of forgetfulness is almost a point of shame to tell the truth of it.
Whereas just a week ago this small business was allowed to effectively serve as a full service shop for everything from the purchasing of vapor mods and juices to repairs, coil builds and the other assorted services, new regulations from the feds have now reduced it to a simple vendor stall with substantial controls on what may be done and even said during business hours. Chief amongst the regressive and constitutionally questionable matters involved are controls on just what discussion vendors and sellers may say regarding proposed health benefits of vaping over smoking. In short, new regulations handed down from the FDA require that no signage, nor statements made by those selling vaping products may infer or suggest health benefits over smoking at all. Now if this strikes you as draconian at all, realize that this restriction on speech is but the tip of this cloudy iceberg.
In addition to this, all new vaporizer products brought to market will be required to undergo a regulatory application process that the FDA estimates will take 5,000 hours and cost $330,000 for each individual product as they’re created. Other estimates however suggest that the financial total could be as high as $1 million, ultimately putting a financial toll so heavy on the industry in totality that it could effectively kill what has proven to be one of the most successful smoking cessation initiatives in history. As the center for disease control (CDC) estimates that worldwide smoking results in 6 million deaths each year, one would think that a regulatory agency charged with safeguarding the population from harmful and deadly products would welcome such an innovative approach to bringing people away from smoking, especially when it is considered that Public Health England have determined e-cigarettes to be 95% less detrimental to health than cigarettes.
Sadly though, this recent act by FDA, spurred on by numerous members of the House, Senate and a number of Governors, seems to be working contrary both to the facts as we find them, as well as actual government data backing them up. Though some within the government, such as Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson are demanding answers from the FDA about their heavy handed and counterproductive new regulatory action, FDA is revealing little more than bluster and “think of the children” statements, similar to that of many on the anti-vaping side within Congress.
These recent actions by FDA have fueled the growing sentiment even within liberal circles that so much of what constitutes our national regulatory bodies are themselves either woefully ignorant or rife with bias and corruption. Though the truth likely rests in a mix of the two possibilities, recent statements made by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) suggest that monumental ignorance is likely a substantial part regardless of vested interest.
Amidst increasing numbers of states mulling the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, the DEA has recently announced that it has no interest in removing the plant from its “schedule one” status, which effectively likens the herb to heroin, methamphetamine and LSD. Despite millions of people worldwide having smoked pot throughout their lifetimes, all over the course of human history without the devastating effects which other legal substance such as tobacco or alcohol are known to create, this continued and costly effort to prohibit the substance serves up yet another example of regulatory authoritarianism which serves no other purpose than keeping power in the hands of those involved.
With Colorado and Washington state having both already legalized marijuana for recreational use, dozens of states passing medical exemptions and roughly a half dozen currently considering full legalization, one might be led to believe that within a decades time, should trends continue, that the United States will see widespread legalization on state levels while the federal government remains intractable on the matter. But what of course could the interests in play really be to maintain such backwards and authoritarian policies? What benefit is there to be found in restricting access to things such as e-cigarettes or pot?
The answers potentially rest with what the majority of answers to such questions regarding government is and that is the potential for moneyed interests to push for their given agendas. Within the e-cigarette and vaping world, the vested interest is rather self-evident. Though regarded as another front for the tobacco industry by many a congressperson or Governor, the vaporizer industry itself, existing within something of a growing subculture of its own, has little to do with big tobacco beyond merely presenting an industrial threat to their bottom lines. Should it be a surprise then that an industry which produces a product which offers “looking cool” and death as its only true ultimate effects would see a threat in a rising trend that is often regarded as a smoking cessation tool? This being the case, would it not also make sense to presume that in some manner this powerful industrial interest would lawyer, lobby and leverage influence in government to see that its competition is put down?
This same theme is, at least in theory, applicable to the question of marijuana. In spite of being regarded as the most benign adulterant in popular use and in spite of this being the case while far more deadly products remaining legally on the market, the question of which vested interests may oppose legalization points largely in the direction of the law enforcement and correctional industries, as well as big pharma and to a lesser extent, the alcohol industry as well. This being as theoretically, were marijuana to become legal it is not hard to imagine each of these corporate industrial powerhouses standing to potentially lose millions in one fashion or another.
Ultimately and sadly from my own liberal perspective, actions such as these really only serve to prove the conservative talking points around regulation to be true. Working at both the behest of a big and if not corrupt, ethically questionable government, who themselves work at the behest of big and corruptive interests, it is hard to envision a manner in which these or future regulations regarding consumer products should or could be respected on their face. This in and of itself, while a damning strike against the regulatory bodies themselves, does the further disservice of undermining the credibility of regulation as a concept. In doing so, these government officials, who are either ignorantly well-meaning, or knowingly disingenuous have laid the groundwork for the next waves of criticism and contempt for their offices and function, right as anti-government sentiment is spiking throughout the ideological spectrum.
So well done American bureaucrats. You’ve once again proven your detractors correct.