Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 2

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Page 27 of 71

28 tobaccoasia E-Cigarettes: Better Quick than Sorry Often when governors or ministers can't make fis- cal ends meet, they suddenly remember that to- bacco may pose a risk to people's health and the best way to mitigate that risk (read "to plug an- other huge hole in the budget") is to extort more money from the tobacco industry under the guise of taxes and laws that are – of course! – only en- acted to protect The Children TM . This is what the tobacco industry has to live with these days. Of course, it is worth pointing out that the situation could have been largely avoided had the tobacco industry worked more closely with the govern- ments of their respective countries on designing and enacting legislation that would have been more acceptable to everyone and provided a legal framework for tobacco companies to operate in. True enough, no other industry is demonized with such fervor and as often as the tobacco in- dustry, but as pointed out, part of the blame actu- ally lies with the tobacco companies themselves. It was just announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules on April 24, to deal with the growing electronic cigarette industry. In fact, the FDA received ap- proval to act five years ago, but only now did the agency take action. Although some critics say it has taken the government too long to start the process, this delay is, in fact, perfectly understand- able: the FDA cannot act on a product or a prod- uct class without sufficient grounds for concern. This is the first sweeping attempt of its kind to regulate vaping, but if our experience with the tobacco industry has taught us anything, it's that it will not be the last. It is merely the harbinger of things to come. The time is ripe for vaping advo- cacy groups, industry representatives, researchers, manufacturers and consumers to come together and show some serious initiative. A united front would definitely help move things along, but what is even more important in this situation is an active show of readiness to work with the government with the purpose of ironing out any issues that re- main to be addressed. In this respect, the saga of the various govern- ments' campaigns against the tobacco companies and the mistakes that those companies have made in the last four decades represent an invaluable set of lessons to be studied and draw for the still fled- geling e-cigarette industry. Vaping is very much a 21st century phenomenon and it needs to address potential challenges in a new way that may even seem counterintuitive to some. One can be forgiven for thinking it is a good idea to "leave well enough alone" since the thought of proactively contacting the government and asking it to strictly regulate your business just By Andrey Mededev

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