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FDA Pours $270 Million into E-Cigarette Research

By Raymond Polidori

Monday September 8, 2014
FDA E-Cigarette research budget is $270 million
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With hundreds of e-cigarette brands already on the market, the Food and Drug Administration is getting serious about e-cigarettes, the FDA is now known to be spending $270 million in research.

There are almost 50 projects that the FDA is funding with that money as they hope to get some real data on the use of e-cig juice, e-cig tanks, and anything e-cig related. In this article about the research, Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin of Yale University, who is leading 4 such projects, proclaims that the FDA “want[s] data and they want it yesterday.”

The drive for more information comes at a time where e-cigarette use is simply skyrocketing and is already projected to have reached a $3 billion a year business. With the recent FDA regulation proposals still in the commentary phase, it is no wonder that the regulatory agency is dying to get more information about the devices and their affects.

This has to be seen as a welcome approach for the e-cigarette industry, at least when compared to the distrust that e-cigarette brands have been meeting in many avenues. We’ve covered the many e-cigarette bans popping up around the country and the severely misguided efforts of many in government to hamper the e-cigarette revolution. They tend to generalize all products, from e-cig juice and e-cig tanks to 2-piece systems, and it tends to be a negative generalization.

Quite often the argument made against e-cigarettes was not at all based in facts and data, but more of an emotional response to something that looks like smoking and thus conjures up a fear that the devices will bring rise to the current historically low rates of cigarette use.

The irony there, of course, is how the many e-cigarette brands out on the market have helped so many smokers find an alternative to analogue cigarettes. Users often start with a 2-piece system but many move on to use e-cig juice and e-cig tanks for a fuller experience. The point is that even with the currently relatively low rate in cigarette smokers, there is a floor level that seems to have been met and so we find millions still smoking, while millions more pick up the habit.

the fdaIt behooves the FDA to find out what kind of positive impact e-cigarettes can make in the life choices of smokers instead of fighting the industry at every turn. That is what the organization was created for, to help shield Americans from truly dangerous products while assuring them clarity of risks that other products may carry.

With an FDA spokesperson stating that they would “always make regulatory decisions based on the best available science,” this would be a move toward affirming or dismissing the theories and fears about e-cigarettes. The FDA wants to find out as much as they can so they can judge the usage of e-cigarette “vapers” and how it affects them. They will even go as far as scouring facebook to glean information on how people are using their e-cig tanks and 2-piece systems to get the nicotine level desires. Are they tinkering with the delivery of their e-cig juice to up the nicotine level and, if so, is that a common thing?

Another aspect of e-cigarettes that scares the daylights out of a lot of people is the potential lure it has on minors. While the stated intent of pretty much all the e-cigarette brands is to help current smokers, there is the concern that the budding industry will re-glamorize smoking. I don’t know anyone who is in favor of minors picking up smoking, so this type of concern is valid and probably pretty universal. It is also one of the focuses of the FDA research being conducted and hopefully any information that comes from that can be used in a positive manner. If the data can help formulate policies that will keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, we are all for it.

Overall, we have to see this investment by the FDA as a good thing, although we will reserve final judgment until the data is presented. If it is truly fair and unbiased, we think it could be a real tool that can be used to properly regulate e-cigarettes in a way that encourages their growth instead of restricting them.

Even though interference from the FDA still hangs over us as a concern as it has from the very beginning of the e-cigarette revolution, we’ll need to stay optimistic going forward for how it can actually help. This all remains to be seen of course and we’ll temper our optimism depending on how the FDA handles the results of these studies. Either way, it will be another aspect that shapes the industry and one we will be watching extremely closely here at ECCR.

Ray,
Team ECCR

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