Vap­ing hangs in the bal­ance with­out amend­ment

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Beatrice Fos­ter, Lan­ham The writer is the owner of Binky’s Vapes, which has two store­fronts in Mary­land and em­ploys three staff mem­bers.

When I opened Binky’s Vapes two years ago, I started with the “Amer­i­can Dream” in mind and fo­cused on build­ing suc­cess from the ground up. Now, that dream is in dan­ger of turn­ing into a night­mare come Au­gust 2018.

Rules re­cently re­leased by the Food & Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion will re­sult in the clo­sure of my store and hun­dreds of oth­ers in Mar yland. With­out ac­tion by Con­gress, par­tic­u­larly our Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th), more than 50,000 jobs will be lost na­tion­wide and cur­rent adult smok­ers will be de­nied ac­cess to prod­ucts in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized as far less harm­ful than smok­ing. Con­gress­man Hoyer has the power to change this course.

My fam­ily and I started our busi­ness in our base­ment and have worked hard to grow this busi­ness and have cre­ated a com­mu­nity around the peo­ple it serves. We found vap­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to smok­ing and now, I have had the op­por­tu­nity to help so many with their health by of­fer­ing them the same al­ter­na­tive. Count­less peo­ple have told me they are liv­ing a bet­ter life be­cause of va­por prod­ucts, but all of that is at risk of be­ing taken away.

De­spite the known health risks, just last year it was re­ported that more than 850,000 Mar yland res­i­dents still smoke cig­a­rettes. While more than three-fourths of them re­ported want­ing to quit, of the smok­ers that do make that at­tempt dur­ing any given year, only a small num­ber will suc­ceed us­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal tools. Smok­ers de­serve op­tions, which is why I sup­port the bi­par­ti­san Cole-Bishop Amend­ment to the House Agri­cul­ture Ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill. This amend­ment will help re­duce the num­ber of smok­ers by giv­ing Mar ylan­ders — and peo­ple across the coun­try — the al­ter­na­tives they de­serve.

The Cole-Bishop Amend­ment should be­come law this year. With­out it, more than 99 per­cent of va­por prod­ucts on the mar­ket to­day will be banned due to mas­sive costs associated with gain­ing retroac­tive prod­uct ap­provals by the FDA. By mod­ern­iz­ing what the FDA calls the “pred­i­cate date,” the amend­ment would al­low prod­ucts that were on the mar­ket when the FDA fi­nal­ized their reg­u­la­tions to stay on the mar­ket. Some ac­tivists claim that this change would leave va­por prod­ucts un­reg­u­lated, but that’s just po­lit­i­cal rhetoric. To the con­trar y, the amend­ment specif­i­cally re­quires and em­pow­ers the FDA to set rig­or­ous prod­uct stan­dards, ad­ver­tis­ing re­stric­tions and other mea­sures.

Con­gress­man Hoyer has been a leader in push­ing job cre­ation and fight­ing to re­build our economy here in Mary­land. We know he rec­og­nizes that small busi­nesses are the back­bone of the economy, and that keep­ing money in the dis­trict is vi­tal. That is why we are hope­ful that Con­gress­man Hoyer will fight for us. The vap­ing in­dus­try is ben­e­fit­ing so many ar­eas, in­clud­ing the economy and in re­duc­ing smok­ing in Mary­land, so why not fight to help move it for­ward?

My cus­tomers and I are ask­ing Con­gress­man Hoyer to for­mally re­quest that Demo­cratic lead­er­ship in­clude the Cole-Bishop Amend­ment in this year’s om­nibus spend­ing bill. By do­ing this, he will be de­fend­ing nu­mer­ous small busi­nesses, in­clud­ing Binky’s Vapes, that have a large eco­nomic im­pact in his dis­trict.

Binky’s Vapes is only one of thou­sands of va­por busi­nesses in Amer­ica. Tens of thou­sands of jobs hang in the bal­ance due to the rigid re­fusal of the FDA to reg­u­late rea­son­ably. We are ask­ing Con­gress­man Hoyer to­day to de­fend con­sumer choice, small busi­nesses and lo­cal jobs by push­ing for vi­tal changes to the FDA’s reg­u­la­tion to oc­cur this year.

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