The fate of electronic cigarettes and vaping as we know it aside, the United States is in a precarious position. The Trump Administration currently faces record-low approval ratings due to divisive policies such as nationalistic rhetoric towards immigration and protectionist economic policies as if we were back in the 1920s. Just within the country itself, the actions taken on behalf of the administration can very well make or break how we experience life as an American. This article will highlight what to expect for this year and into next year's highly anticipated 2020 elections.
FDA's Regulatory Actions
The regulatory actions taken under the jurisdiction of the FDA's has been staggering, particularly for deemed tobacco products (i.e: US - the vaping industry and subsequent vaping community). From FDA-compliance standards that throw brands such as BLVK Unicorn through the regulatory process such as stringent advertising requirements, label restrictions, and the completion and submission of PMTAs to spreading mass hysteria, fear, and other rhetoric that effectively scares governments into proposing bans that would otherwise only hurt the overall public good, vaping as we know will only get harder for us adult smokers.
The support for regulatory action against e-cigarettes and vapor products isn't new. It's precedent came from the Clinton administration with Truth campaigns spreading the good word on the dangers of smoking cigarettes. The massive spending campaign technically began for e-cigarettes during the Obama administration. And now, the figurative witch hunt continues on well into the Trump Administration, this time at the behest of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. While Gottlieb has made significant strides for the good of public health by improving accessibility of pharmaceutical drugs, he is also the judge, juror, and executioner of several legal industries and stands as the most-hated man in the e-cigarette industry.
So How Does the FDA Tie into U.S. Politics?
The answer is simple - the Commissioner of the FDA is appointed by the President. The actions taken by the regulatory agency reflects back to the administration of the current regime. Therefore, the actions deliberated, enacted, and ultimately enforced by the FDA reflects entirely on President Trump. It's no surprise that the President cares little for public health. Aside from Trump's declaration of destroying the HIV epidemic that has been around for nearly two generations, this leaves Gottlieb to do what he pleases with the agency, with little to no oversight from anywhere else within the government. The result? Increased proliferation of misinformation campaigns and mass-hysteria that puts millions of smokers at risk, not to mention that personal liberties are also at risk. When it comes time to vote, whether it be at the Federal, State, or local levels, why would voters place trust back into the institutions that systematically kills them?
If you are a Republican-leaning e-cigarette smoker, you do have options leading into the 2020 elections. For example, the former Ohio Governor John Kasich is a right-leaning moderate that embraces more of the hands-off approach towards small government and therefore more oversight by the White House on regulatory agencies. Another alternative is Libertarian-leaning ex-Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. It's worth noting however, party politics generally makes it extremely difficult to unseat the incumbent with another candidate; but one can nevertheless try.
If you are a Democrat-leaning e-cigarette smoker, your options are more of the same if Trump stayed in power. There are currently 10 candidates gunning for the nomination and other would-be political "influencers" considering running for the hell of it. If you remember New York City before Michael Bloomberg essentially destroyed vaping and what the city looks like now, should Bloomberg announce his run for the presidency expect the country to be even more divided than it already is. In addition to the presidential seat up for grabs, consider the powerful institutions that would benefit if a Democrat-leaning politician was in power. Organizations such as the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the Truth Initiative, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids ALL benefit from enforcement taken at the Federal level.
Immensely scary times are coming. So what can we immediately control?
To study politics is a fluid matter. The political landscape changes every minute, every hour, every day, every week, and every month. Should something change on any avenue pertaining to the fate of our industry, suddenly EVERYTHING changes. There is however hope.
Pertaining to the various manufacturers, distributors, and retail stores (both physical and online), brands such as ourselves simply have to keep moving forward. BLVK Unicorn is already taking the necessary steps to be as compliant as possible with the FDA. Last November, we submitted our Ingredient Listings and updated our Establishment information as required by the agency. Moving into November of this year we'll have our HPHC Reports done and submitted, leaving the final step of completing, submitting, and awaiting that highly sought-after approval by the FDA as an approved product by 2022. While Compliance is a seemingly never-ending task, sales & marketing teams industry-wide must also submit to stringent advertising guidelines, remain vigilant about underage vaping, and avoid markets where local and state governments have introduced (and passed) flavor bans. For all the companies still hanging in there, we're there with you.
If you are an adult smoker that uses our products or e-cigarettes in general, there are several things you can do between now and the inevitable regime change in 2020. First off, as an adult smoker, you are just as responsible as the companies that represent it. Underage vaping remains a serious problem and its affecting everyone else more so than the kids that obtain the products in the first place. Companies are taking a more active stance in preventing it at the point of sale. If you are a parent, please remain vigilant. Remaining vigilant is the most powerful tool at your disposal. Next, whether you are an American citizen or a Legal Resident Alien, your local Congressman and/or Congresswoman were put in the position(s) they are in to service their respective constituents, meaning YOU. If you are largely unhappy with the decisions carried out by the FDA and other interest groups, Congress can and should be used to change that. Reach out and make your voice heard! Contest the flavor bans, contest the Tobacco 21 Policies, protest City Hall; make some noise simply because it's your right! Lastly, when it does come to election time, we ask that you do your research and make the effort to vote. If not in person, then vote-by-mail. To omit your right to vote is to reject the system then be forced to live with its consequences. Please do your research when voting for a candidate so we can at least get a responsible individual calling the shots (no offense President Trump).
It is worth noting that BLVK Unicorn is not a politically-motivated organization. We simply exist to service adult smokers with our products and maintain our lifestyle we've created for ourselves and others that support us. Like we mentioned above, times are getting scary for the vaping industry. Both sides of the political aisle present equally frightening futures for vapers like you and us. The best things we can do lies in our control: stay vigilant, stand up for yourself, and keep moving forward.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or feel like we might have missed something, please feel free to drop us a line!