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As August 8, 2016, approaches, many vendors are stressed and unable to clearly articulate their emotional reaction to the current state of affairs. After August 8th, manufacturers will be unable to create/design new products or modify existing products (without going through the impracticable PMTA process, see below). Shops will have limits on what they can say and do when helping you. Nothing in this post is legal advice, but I am posting this because some consumers seem to not realize how drastic things are, or that there are concrete steps that consumers can take to help. This is not meant to be preachy, even if some will inevitably see it that way; this is meant to give some perspective to consumers and give consumers ideas for how to direct their concerns for our future, while business owners are likely focused on preparations for August 8th. The following is part of an article written for the advocacy issue of Vapun, modified slightly for this post.

Background: Why You Should Help

The fundamental problem with the FDA deeming regulations published on May 10, 2016, is that all vapor product manufacturers must comply with the costly Premarket Tobacco Product Application (“PMTA”) process for any product released after the predicate date of February 2007. Successful applications will cost millions of dollars per product – and the manufacturers that make real vape products cannot afford that cost. The expensive part of the PMTA process is the clinical and non-clinical testing required to submit the applications; by some estimates, with only two years to apply, vapor companies would not be able to complete the testing before the deadline even if they started today. 
Since none of the vapor product manufacturers will be able to afford the PMTA process, more than 15,000 brick and mortar specialty vape shops around the country will be put out of business indirectly because they won’t have products they can legally sell. Sure, some cigalikes might survive, but the products sold in real vape shops will be gone. When the deadline for manufacturers to submit a PMTA passes in two years on August 8, 2018, all the vape shops will go out of business and the millions of consumers who vape will either go back to smoking or turn to a dangerous black market, UNLESS we successfully change the predicate date first. 

Two serious legislative solutions would change the predicate date from 2007 to August 8, 2016: (1) HR 2058 (aka the Cole Bill) and (2) the Cole-Bishop Amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. If either bill passes, all the products currently sold in vape shops can stay on the market without submitting PMTAs. Manufacturers will need to comply with future rules about product safety and manufacturing standards, but manufacturers would survive because they could avoid the unaffordable millions of dollars in costs for applications that could be denied.
Moving the predicate date will not fix every problem in the regulations, since new products would still be subjected to the essentially impossible PMTA process, but changing the date is the bare minimum that must be done for the vape industry to survive longer than two years (manufacturers will be able to keep making their current products longer than 2 years if the predicate date changes). Both consumers and vape businesses need to help fight if we have any hope of being successful.

How Consumers Can Help

STEP 1: Register to Vote 
Some states have online registration and some states require a paper registration, but there is still plenty of time to register now to take part in the major elections this year. Why does registering to vote matter? Because a major motivator for politicians to help us is the fact that we have so many "single issue voters" who care about vaping more than any other issue. There is an election coming up in a few months, and we need the maximum number of registered voters possible to make a difference. This is especially true if you have never registered to vote, since that shows a politician that this issue motivates you to take action.https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote
Side note: if you think you cannot register to vote because of a past criminal conviction, you should double check the law in your state. Only a small handful of states permanently deprive someone of their right to vote. Most states allow someone with a criminal record to register to vote upon release from custody or when parole/probation is over (when you’re off paper). https://www.aclu.org/…/state-criminal-re-enfranchisement-la… orhttp://www.ncsl.org/…/elections-an…/felon-voting-rights.aspx

STEP 2: Join CASAA & Visit august8th.org
Essential consumer advocacy group is Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (“CASAA”). CASAA is a non-profit organization that protects the interests of consumers by helping preserve legal safe consumer access to harm reduction alternatives to smoking. CASAA has about 180,000 members, and membership is free! http://casaa.org/
CASAA recently launched www.august8th.org, which links to the single most important action item for consumer-vapers at any given time. CASAA calls to action generally take less than five minutes: you fill in your name, email, and street address, then send a pre-written letter that automatically goes to your elected officials based on your address. At this time, a combination HR 2058/Cole-Bishop Call to Action is on august8th.orgbecause both bills move the predicate date (either would fix the biggest problem in the regulations). Even if you have previously sent an HR 2058 call to action through CASAA, everyone must do the new one that refers to both bills. 

Bonus step: follow up those emails with phone calls to your federal legislators to make sure they understand that vaping is the single most important issue to you as a voter, and it will determine how you vote in the upcoming election. Politicians need to know that vapers are motivated “single issue voters” because they will decide whether to vote for someone based on whether they help save vaping. A staffer will answer the phone and mark down your phone call indicating support for vaping and your request that the politician support legislation that moves the predicate date. At the federal level, where your elected officials can change the predicate date in the FDA regulations, everyone elects two Senators and one Representative. You can use this website to find phone numbers and names of your elected officials at the federal level:http://whoismyrepresentative.com/
Check out http://www.heartsandminds.org/articles/lobby.htm for some background information on approaching politicians if you're nervous about calling.

STEP 3: Combat Misinformation at home and in day to day life
Anger is a normal gut reaction to hearing totally false misinformation about vaping, BUT anger is not persuasive. Sometimes we hear misinformation from extended family or sometimes it is someone making small talk. Educate yourself with the facts you need to calmly explain that vaping is different than smoking, and that the scientifically sound research clearly recognizes vaping as a harm reduction technology compared to traditional cigarettes. This is something you can do as a consumer or an individual that companies cannot do, especially after August 8, 2016 when the portions of the regulations limiting statements about harm reduction go into effect. 
Two major studies supporting harm reduction claims came from England in the last year. In 2015, Public Health England, a branch of the British government, publically declared that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking traditional combustible cigarettes. https://www.gov.uk/…/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-th… The Royal College of Physicians the foremost medical organization in England, issued a 200 page report in April 2016 outlining the science supporting their determination that vaping is 95% to 99% safer than smoking traditional cigarettes.https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/…/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacc…
For more information about supportive science or educational materials, check out http://casaa.org/About_Harm_Reduction.html or Not Blowing Smoke http://notblowingsmoke.org/

(The original article went on to discuss steps businesses can take to help, but given the current stress level of businesses, it was not included here. For the complete article, check out the most recent Vapun issue).

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