VILLAGE OF HARTLAND - Village officials are preparing to send their findings from a three-day hearing on e-cigarettes to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, hoping they can prove the agency acted outside of its authority when it introduced regulations that could threaten the industry.
At hearings in Hartland from April 27-29, doctors, think tank professionals and industry leaders from across the country spoke out against the rules the FDA introduced in August requiring all e-cigarette products put on the market after February 2007 to apply to continue being sold.
The application process could cost as much as $1 million per product, which could severely dampen the growth of Hartland-based Johnson Creek Enterprises, an e-liquid company with more than 200 products.
According to the Electronic Vaping Coalition of America, an industry group that approached the village about challenging the agency's rules, the FDA is required to coordinate with municipalities when it introduces rules that will affect those municipalities.
“The FDA did not coordinate with us, and according to the law, they have to because it affects our municipality,” said Village President Jeff Pfannerstill. “We are confident that we stand on firm footing to make them or force them to have to work with us, but it will definitely have a huge impact.”
The next step is for the village to send its findings to the FDA's leadership. Pfannerstill said the village board is still determining who will take the documents to the agency but said he thinks the findings will be sent within the next two weeks.
Pfannerstill said he thinks public opinion is turning against the idea that e-cigarettes are just as harmful as traditional cigarettes. Many anti-tobacco organizations have given up on the argument that they are as harmful as cigarettes and instead argue that they could serve as a gateway to children and teens to start smoking traditional cigarettes.
“Their argument is not based on health; it's based on psychology,” Pfannerstill said. “It is appearing that it's a safer alternative to cigarettes.”
After listening to the points made during the hearings, Pfannerstill said he is confident the FDA will be forced to work with Hartland to create regulations that work for all parties involved.
“For me, it was really, really worth it,” he said. “I am confident that it is going to have an effect.”