Every election year, Oklahoma politicians talk about how they want to diversify the economy and bring new jobs to state. So far, it looks like their plans have only worked for the e-cig and vaping industry. In every shopping center in every town in every corner of this state there seems to be at least one vape shop staffed by a guy with overly-groomed facial hair and a gray ivy cap selling e-liquids and flavor juices from who knows where to desperate nicotine addicts.
Knowing that, it shouldn't be surprising to know that Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole is being hailed as a savior of the industry.
Tom Cole doesn’t vape. The 66-year-old Republican representative from Oklahoma prefers cigars, yet he’s currently a bit of an unlikely champion in the vaping industry. That’s thanks to a bill he has been trying to shepherd through Congress that would protect vaping manufacturers from a potentially fatal blow in pending regulations.“To me, it just seems unfair,” Cole told me over the phone. “It seems to me like we’re regulating out of fear instead of out of knowledge.”For the last five years, the Food and Drug Administration has been working through the process of regulating e-cigarettes and other vape devices by adding them to its list of controlled tobacco products. Currently, the agency only regulates cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, chewing tobacco, and snuff, but is adding cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigs, vape pens, and e-liquids.That process included releasing a set of proposed regulations, such as requiring warning labels and prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. But the proposal also defined a restrictive grandfathering date: any products that came on the market after February 15, 2007—virtually the entire vape market—would not only need to meet the new regulations but would also be forced to go through a costly application process that could push hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors out of business.Cole’s bill, which was introduced last year and has been languishing in a subcommittee, would remove that grandfathering date. This wouldn’t mean vape products would be unregulated: they’d still be subject to whatever rules the FDA sets out, they just wouldn’t have to go through this additional, formal approval process that’s usually reserved for products that come on the market after new regulations are set.“The products would still be subject to regulation, but we traditionally allow folks to grandfather [existing] things in and not put expenses on them,” Cole said. “There’s no particular logic for this date other than if you want to be punitive towards this industry, without a lot of evidence to justify that at this point.”In pushing forward this bill, Cole has caught the attention of the vaping world. Redditors in a vaping subreddit have been posting for months about letters sent to their local representatives asking for support of Cole’s bill, and one vaping blog called Cole “the vape community’s potential savior.”“Whether he knows it or not. His simple, fair, and common sense legislation will preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Sham Shivaie wrote on Vape About It.
I'm not a big fan of vaping, but that's pretty cool. It's good to see an Oklahoma lawmaker doing something besides going down on the energy industry and / or religious right. That being said, if Tom Cole is a true savior can't he make it where people can vape in public and still have some sort of dignity. Seriously, you'd look cooler falling off a segway in Bricktown than vaping an e-cig in public. Even Leonardo DiCaprio looked like a tool while doing it. In fact, I heard he only banged only three Victoria's Secret the night of the Golden Globes.