by Carl V Phillips
Today, a couple of outsources. First, for those who read this blog but do not look at CASAA’s main announcements-and-such blog, you might want to check out this post about CASAA’s efforts to engage with the U.S. government. We made a nomination for the next round of the TPSAC, the external scientific panel that advises the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. The TPSAC is supposed to have a consumer representative, but does not (that slot is filled by a hard-core ANTZ who is arguably the diametric opposite of a consumer representative). But even if that slot is not available, our nominee (guess who?) is also one of the leading researchers in the field and therefore qualified to advise on the science and represent the consumers from any position on the committee (if I do say so myself :-).
We believe this puts the FDA in the position of having to step up and fulfill their stated commitment to provide a consumer voice. If they do not do this, it will be a clear indication that they do not really intend to voluntarily accept a role for consumers.
Second, CASAA met with the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) which is currently reviewing the FDA “deeming regulation” that would regulate e-cigarettes. E-cigarette and THR advocates had been hoping to intervene at this point in the process to try to change what might be bad proposed regulations (we do not know what the content is, so this was a bit blind). However, there had been some difficulty in understanding what OIRA does and what basis they need to make decisions upon; they analyze technical and economic points about regulations, and thus cannot really act on a plea that is phrased in terms of morals and the wonderfulness of e-cigarettes. We were not optimistic OIRA was interested in acting based on what we had heard about previous meetings.
However, we had the advantage that OIRA are my peeps (my original training being in policy/regulatory economics, and a lot of my classmates and teachers spent some time in versions of that office) and so we could craft an argument based on our understanding of the specifics of what they needed to hear, not just a generic statement about e-cigarettes. I think we really nailed it (hey, as long as I have to write “if I do say so myself” this morning, I might as well go all-in). You can form your own opinion by clicking through to our talking points memo — and if you do not know too much about how the FDA tobacco regulation process is actually functioning you might find some interesting information there too. The meeting went great and we came away from it rather optimistic that OIRA might step in to help us avoid bad regulations.
Needless to say, there is no guarantee that either one of these initiatives will pay off (though the first has the benefit of giving us a clear message we can use even if it is rejected). But it is good to know that there is a system in place that offers real possibilities that the government will do the right thing. Yes, we have the most dysfunctional government in living memory due to the way our checks-and-balances are playing out, but I suspect this will generate appreciation of our system from readers in checks-and-balances-free Europe and the Commonwealth.
Speaking of, I will finish with an outsource to Freedom-2-Choose (Scotland), a quick read about an argument in Australia that nicely illustrates the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the “public health” anti-THR liars. It speaks for itself, and I have nothing to add.