The END ENDS Act – it sounds like an existential threat to the whole e-cigarette industry in the US. Or at least an end to the legal e-cigarette industry. Anyone with the most basic knowledge of US history ought to know how the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s turned out. There’s a reason those 20s were roaring.
The proposed act is the brainchild of US congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, a Democrat and noted long-term opponent of vaping. He it was who called for the e-cig market to be closed down completely at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year and accused the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of failing in its duty of leadership by not immediately banning all vape sales.
In light of that, and Krishnamoorthi’s recent crowing at his own “success in pushing the FDA to ban the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes”, you might imagine that he is now indeed planning to put an end to ENDS, as the title of his bill suggests. The reality is rather less extreme.
Cut away the rhetoric and what Krishnamoorthi’s bill actually proposes is a permissible limit in e-liquids “and other chemical compounds that are heated and inhaled by e-cigarette users” of 20 mg of nicotine per ml. Which happens to be precisely the limit imposed across Europe by the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), adopted as a standard by many other countries around the world, and still in force post-Brexit in the UK – possibly the most vape-friendly country in the world.
Full contrived title
If Krishnamoorthi gets his way, Juul and others will have to cut the nicotine strength of their products in the US – but only to the level they already conform with in Britain, Europe and elsewhere.
He would also “encourage the FDA to successfully replicate international efforts to prevent youth from using e-cigarettes, and to examine other ways to regulate the design and function of e-cigarettes to be less appealing to youth.” Again, hardly the most threatening measure – or, you’d think, the most controversial. Keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of youngsters seems to be the one aim that everyone on both sides of the vaping divide can agree on, at least in public.
Finally, the misnamed END ENDS Act (full contrived title Ending Nicotine Dependence from Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Act) would “allow the FDA to lower the cap on nicotine concentration in e-liquids to a minimally addictive or non-addictive level” below 20 mg/ml.
Which is where it might get tricky, begging the question – much like the Biden administration’s suggestion of lowering the allowed nicotine content in combustibles to “levels at which they are no longer addictive” – who determines that level, and how.
Setting that question aside for now, however, we can confidently state that the proposed END ENDS Act is not as bad as it sounds. Or not as good, depending on your point of view.
– Aidan Semmens ECigIntelligence staff