VILLAGE OF HARTLAND - Village officials are taking their first steps in combating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's new regulations on e-cigarettes, which they see as federal overreach.
Beginning Thursday, April 27, the village will host three days of hearings in the village board room to gather information about FDA regulations enacted in August that, among other things, require a costly approval process for every tobacco product introduced after February 2007, including e-cigarettes and the liquid for e-cigarettes.
Village officials are concerned because Hartland-based e-liquid manufacturer Johnson Creek Enterprises has said the rules could severely limit its business growth.
Speaking during the village board meeting on April 24, attorney Fred Kelly Grant, who is working on behalf of the industry group Electronic Vaping Coalition of America, said this meeting is the start of what could curtail the FDA regulations.
Grant said the FDA is required to coordinate with local governments that will be affected by new regulations. This meeting, he said, will prove the agency has not done that.
“We trust that we're going to be able to show that they haven't done it, and by not doing it, their regulations are illegal,” Grant told the board.
Speakers planned for the meeting include some of the country's "top scientists," Grant said, including a renowned emergency room doctor from Fort Hood, Texas. Many of the speakers will be over the phone or video call.
Grant described the FDA's regulations, which could cost manufacturers up to $1 million for each product application, as illegal and compared them with taxes placed on the colonies that led to the Revolutionary War.
"We've got an executive department of government that over the past 30 years has gone back to what we fought against,” Grant said. “(This is) just our little way of fighting back.”
A former federal prosecutor in Baltimore, Grant moved back to his home state of Idaho several years ago and began practicing law. He said he prides himself on working for the public against those in power. He said that, years ago, he won a case against the developers of a proposed interstate in Texas that would have cut off communities from access to hospitals, increasing commutes to emergency departments by 28 minutes.
He said this case is similar because it threatens the public's access to what the EVCA thinks is a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Federal agencies, such as the FDA, hold differing opinions on the safety of e-cigarettes.
"Public health is being hurt by the regulation,” Grant told the board. "Folks, you're going to take them on, and we're going to be there to help you.”
Next week, the EVCA will present its findings to the FDA administrator in Washington.
If you go
The hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m.Thursday, April 27, and continue at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 28. On Saturday, April 29, the meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. and run until everyone has spoken.
The meetings are open to the public. Those who want to testify at the hearings should call Village Administrator David Cox at 262-367-2714 at least 30 minutes before the start of the hearing.
An earlier version of this story cited Fred Kelly Grant as saying U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson would be present at one of the hearings. However, a spokesman for Johnson's office said the senator will not be involved in the meeting.