Vapers across the country are rightfully busy hating on the PACT Act right now. It is robbing them of choice, raising the cost to vape, forcing them to increase their in-person shopping during a pandemic, making shipping of vape products monstrously expensive, and putting more beleaguered small vape businesses under--but there just might be a silver lining.
At Kai's Virgin Vapor, we have devoted hundreds of man hours to the maddeningly complex, joyless, and soul crushing task of PACT Act compliance. Among the many challenges is the requirement to register with every state in the Union in order to remit excise taxes (often called tobacco taxes), along with monthly tax reports.
Initially, we believed that we would only have to submit these monthly tax reports to the states that charge excise taxes. I mean, why would a state that isn't charging a tobacco tax want reporting on all the vape sales in the state?
However, about two weeks ago, our lawyers began advising that, to their surprise, quite a few non-tax states are going to be requiring monthly vape sales reports. In fact, the majority of states that don't charge tobacco taxes are demanding the reporting--a major burden for small vape businesses.
Why would states want this irrelevant information? If you think about it, an answer leaps to mind. Do they want to take a peek to see how much money they COULD make if they started charging tobacco taxes perhaps?
"More taxes?" you say, "Well, that just seems like more bad news!" And it is. But here's the thing. Nothing motivates a politician quite like cold, hard cash. If they're seeing money flooding in, it just might act as an unexpected deterrent to the War on Vaping.
And war it is.
Just recently, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tweeted, "Flavored e-cigarettes are fueling the youth e-cigarette epidemic. I proudly joined @RepDianaDeGette & 42 of my colleagues today in urging @FDATobacco to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market and deny applications for flavored e-cigarettes & other flavored tobacco products."
Wasserman Schultz neglects to mention the recent decline in youth vaping, the fact that surveyed underage vapers stated that flavors were not the main reason for initiating use, and the other very real epidemic that takes nearly half a million American lives every year: smoking cigarettes.
She also leaves candy flavored alcohol off her hit list, despite the fact that alcohol use by underage high school seniors is higher than vape use and despite the fact that underage drinking can actually be lethal.
What really irks me about this tweet, however, is that she seems to believe that her personal opinion should circumvent the scientific process at the FDA. The entire point of the PMTA process is to allow the FDA to evaluate vape products for safety and to determine whether continuing to allow them to be sold is "appropriate for the protection of public health."
Having personally written 19 PMTA applications, I can definitively state that there is a huge amount of information required about the effects and potential effects of the applicant product on all segments of the population with a major emphasis on vulnerable populations, underage individuals in particular. This information is submitted to enable the FDA to make a determination as to whether the product offers a net benefit to the public and meets the standard of being appropriate for the protection of the public health.
Wasserman Schultz's crusade is a blatant attempt to circumvent this science-based process by putting political pressure on the FDA.
This is just the latest repeat of the anti-vaping playbook and, in fact, the political playbook of the day in general: get talking points that allow you to act morally superior (very possibly supplied by Big Tobacco itself), ignore and hide inconvenient facts (a form of manipulation), take away more rights from the American people, rinse, repeat.
However, when the states start seeing their coffers filling up from all the vape taxes, I predict we just might gain a few unexpected allies in the fight against this kind of manufactured anti-vaping hysteria. Who knows. The PACT Act that was designed to kill vaping and rammed through in a budget bill so no one could object in time may actually end up saving vaping rather than killing it.
What do you think?