Now that e-cigarettes have turned into a multi-billion dollar a year industry, Big Tobacco lobbyists are again flexing their muscles in Washington to make sure they're not regulated. The New York Times reported Friday that the tobacco industry has assembled a team of over 75 lobbyists—including a former Obama administration official and former Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu—to fight a new FDA rule to extend its regulatory control to include e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, and more.
Republican Congressman Tom Cole recently introduced legislation to curtail the FDA. The Times found that the bill's title and 245-word text were taken word-for-word from the proposal written by the tobacco industry. Cole has already attracted 71 cosponsors from both parties in an effort to pass the bill.
The new FDA rules and the industry pushback come in response to the rapid growth of e-cigarettes over the past 6 years, especially among teenagers. A recent survey by the FDA and Centers for Disease control found that 16 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes, a 900 percent increase since 2011.
Makers of the vaping devices have already taken precautions in case they lose the regulatory battle. Before the FDA rules took effect in August, e-cigarette makers released a dizzying array of new products. All of these devices will be immune from the new FDA rule for the next three years. A lot of vaping and lobbying can be done in three years.