April 5, 2017

Change needed to protect e-cigarettes, small businesses

The most populous city in New Mexico and recognized by Forbes as the sixth best place for business and careers, Albuquerque, New Mexico has set the bar high for other cities to follow. Ranked the fifth most cost-friendly city in which to do business, it’s logical thinking to say that economically, Albuquerque is doing something right. A welcoming, growing environment for entrepreneurs and a prosperous economy that allows careers to thrive, Albuquerque is among those American cities that set an example of American greatness and fortune.

As a board member of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and an advocate for consumers, small business owners, and robust economic growth, I’m proud to call Albuquerque my home and continually see the steady influx of new opportunities arise. At the center of it all are small business leaders whose hard work and innovative minds are leading our economy to success.

Morris J. Chavez is an Albuquerque attorney.

Perhaps many of us don’t pay too much attention to new technology or developments that would better the economy, or even one’s health. But today, rapidly advancing technology and advanced thinkers are the backbone to some of America’s newest, most wealthy sectors, and no bureaucratic limitations should sway that.

The use of vaping products and e-cigarettes has grown rapidly over the last five years, and they offer a safer alternative to tobacco consumption. Unfortunately, as they currently stand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations over vaping products and e-cigarettes could remove nearly all vaping products available on the market today due to the established February, 2007 “predicate date.” This means that all vapor and e-cigarette products that have hit the market after February of 2007 could be subject to new regulations and approval processes. Should change not be legislated, consumers who regularly use vapor products may suddenly encounter a significantly limited choice.

Not only will this limit a vast majority of less harmful smoking alternatives on the market, but if this rule stands as it is, numerous small businesses across Albuquerque may be forced to shut their doors. FDA consumer and product safety regulations are necessary and should not go away, but the existing predicate date rule of February 2007 places an unreasonable burden on vapor manufacturers. Given the tight deadline, it could prove to be almost impossible for many manufacturers to complete the extremely costly pre-market approval process before the FDA begins enforcement in 2018.

Fortunately, there is a remedy to these problems that is set to work its way through Congress this year: the FDA Deeming Authority Clarification of 2017 (H.R. 1136). Also known as the Cole-Bishop bill. Congressmen Tom Cole and Sanford Bishop have introduced bi-partisan legislation with the intention of setting a more reasonable predicate date in order to protect consumers and small businesses in our great city and across the country.

As a strong advocate of Albuquerque’s small business community, I believe any regulatory rules that may impact the local economy as well as consumer health and safety is worthy of careful consideration.

The FDA must modernize the predicate date in order to allow for all vapor products currently on the market to remain on the market without being subject to the standing prohibitive pre-market FDA approval application process. Consumers and small business must not be harmed by unreasonable bureaucratic regulations.

Our leaders must take a stand for small business, public health, and consumer choice by supporting the Cole-Bishop bill (H.R. 1136) in order to adjust the predicate date rule on vapor products and protect our local economy.