Lawmakers push back on stealth ban on synthetic nicotine in Georgia

OOn March 7, Georgia’s Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee amended a vaping product directory bill, pushing back its effective start date. by years. The legislation is now going to the Senate Rules Committee, where lawmakers will discuss it again.

The proposed bill, SB 572, would only authorize the sale of vaping products approved or pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As Filtered previously reported, critics have noted that such a repertoire would also be a de facto synthetic nicotine banthan many small and medium-sized manufacturers turned after the FDA rejected their claims through its Pre-Market Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) process. Because the agency defines a “tobacco product” like any “made or derived from tobacco”, it does not yet have regulatory authority over synthetic nicotine. This was created in a lab and is not eligible.

Some manufacturers then saw synthetic nicotine as a kind of “loophole” to continue making the flavored vaping products preferred by their adult customers. Puff Bar, a disposable vaping company that now seems popular with teens, switched to synthetic nicotine last year. Many, however, reject this “loophole” characterization and insist that synthetic nicotine is simply a technological development in a rapidly changing industry that the federal government has failed to fully grasp.

Observers and small business owners alike have recently referred to the battle over synthetic nicotine, which is quickly becoming the key front in tobacco control in the United States, as the one between Big Tobacco and Small Vape. The state senator sponsoring the Georgia bill, Republican Jeff Mullis, received campaign contributions from Juul Labs and, at the committee hearing, was joined by Jennifer Cunningham, a lobbyist for the company. Sitting next to Mullis, Cunningham explained that the product directory would ensure a safer and better regulated market.

“A directory offers the dual benefits of helping to protect against potential health and safety risks from unregulated products and cultivating a responsible marketplace.”

“We’re just trying to protect the consumer here,” Mullis said. The product directory compiled by SB 572, Cunningham later added, would provide “an essential tool for state and local law enforcement to ensure a responsible marketplace”.

“A directory offers the dual benefits of helping to protect against the potential health and safety risks of unregulated products and cultivating a responsible marketplace that allows the category to exist and providing adult smokers with legal alternatives. to cigarettes, which is the number one cause of preventable death in Georgia,” she continued.

Paul Blair, vice president of government affairs at Turning Point Brands (TPB), a midsize vaping company, said on Twitter That part of the problem is that the companies advocating for states to ban synthetic nicotine—most of whom are either tobacco growers or large vaping manufacturers with a sizable market share—”are arguing to lawmakers that ‘there is “industry consensus” on the matter. This, he continued, is far from the case.

“Given that the original bill would have decimated Georgia vape shops in just a few months, a two-year implementation delay is welcome.”

Three people urged lawmakers to oppose the bill during the hearing: Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association (AVA); Susan Stutzman, President of the Georgia Vape Alliance; and Keith Gossett, vice president of the Georgia Vape Alliance and owner of Bucky’s Vape Shop in Columbus, Georgia. The majority of lawmakers, who remained understandably confused about the FDA’s PMTA route, agreed to push back some of the bill’s relevant dates.

“Given that the original bill would have decimated Georgia’s vape shops in just a few months, a two-year implementation delay is welcome,” Conley said. Filtered. “Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that this bill will not become law, because vape shops and adult vapers in Georgia should not have a countdown to extinction hanging over their heads.”

By the time the bill takes effect, if it ever does, the FDA should have licensed more than one vaping product – and may also have regulatory authority over synthetic nicotine, providing a legal, albeit onerous route for those products.

“Victory will not be declared until this bill is dead and buried,” Conley said. “But for today, small business owners and vapers in Georgia can at least take comfort in the fact that Juul failed miserably to convince the committee that their preferred solution should be implemented immediately.”


Georgia State Capitol photograph by DXR via Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons 4.0

The Influence Foundation, which operates Filteredhas received grants and donations from the American Vaping Association and Juul Labs. Filtereds Editorial independence policy applies.

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