Donald Trump may seem like an improbable ally of harm reduction, but his US administration has done vapers a favour by delaying impending enforcement of a rule finalised last year that imposed strict supervision over e-cigarettes.
The government has pressed ‘pause’ on the “deeming rule”, so called after a US law passed in 2009 that gave the local authorities jurisdiction over cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, smokeless tobacco and “any other tobacco products that the [Health and Human Services] Secretary by regulation deems to be subject to this chapter.”
Although the rule – and the delay – covers numerous smoking products, it was also set to quite erroneously affect a whole range of NON-tobacco products including e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine.
The latest move comes at a time when many MPs are calling for a relaxation of restrictions on less harmful products aimed at weaning smokers away from smoking. According to the Washington Post, “industry officials are optimistic that they will get a favourable hearing from the administration, especially considering that a large number of lawmakers are on their side.”
TVECA president Ray Story told the newspaper: “I certainly think that [the government] are going to curb regulation, just to curb regulation, because it’s bad for business.” But he doubted there would be complete deregulation. “I certainly don’t think they’re going to lift the veil and say, ‘Here you go, e-cigarettes, you can do whatever you want to do.’”
The “deeming delay” comes just a week after Trump apparently fired the Surgeon-General, Vivek Murthy. This was an example of the president keeping his promise to “drain the swamp,” according to anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, a critic of the Obama-appointee who worked to “demonise” vaping.
“As the nation’s top doctor, Murthy had a responsibility to promote public health,” Norquist was quoted as saying. “On that, he was derelict in his duty, using his position as a platform to demonise vapour products and the millions of adults who use them.”
Murthy was replaced by Sylvia Trent-Adams, who was deputy surgeon general and will serve as the acting surgeon general.