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Turning Up the Lobbying Heat

Lobbyists for electronic cigarette companies are hitting local, state and federal governments hard as momentum builds for regulating the devices.
October 9, 2013

​WASHINGTON, D.C. – Electronic cigarette lobbyists are becoming ubiquitous in local, state and federal government offices as e-cig manufacturers scramble to influence regulatory decisions relating to their industry, the Washington Post reports. Sales of e-cigs have increased two-fold each year, with a bright future ahead. One analyst predicts e-cigarette sales will pass traditional cigarette sales within a decade.

The fledgling industry has eyes on cities and states across the country as councils and legislatures discuss how to tax the devices and whether to restrict their usage. Meanwhile, some House Democrats and state attorneys general are asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the e-cig industry.

The industry has been talking with the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products and with Congress about how harmless their products are—and how e-cigs shouldn’t be as restricted as regular cigarettes. Over the last year, the center has had many meetings with e-cig reps, mostly as “listening sessions” with information given from the companies about their products.

Most experts concur that the FDA will formally declare that electronic cigarette regulation falls under its jurisdiction. Once that is announced, the agency will likely issue restrictions on marketing, sale and purchase. In the meantime, e-cig lobbyists are seeding the ground by visiting lawmakers to talk about the safety of their products.

“Our current approach is to make a few friends in Congress, educate them on a product they’re probably not too familiar with, lay out the industry’s best practices and relay some concerns about potential regulatory hurdles,” said John Scofield, a lobbyist for NJOY and V2, National Tobacco’s e-cigarette brand.

Lorillard Tobacco, with its blue Cigs brand, has thrown lobbying support behind the cause as well. The company’s goal is to provide congressional staff with information about e-cigs. “We always have an e-cigarette on hand so they can see it,” said Michael Shannon, vice president of external affairs at Lorillard. “We just want to make sure that regulation is appropriate and recognizes the differences between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes.”