Say what you will about the state of American politics, but Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis) is nothing if not tenacious. The current Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is one of the most powerful legislators on Capitol Hill, and he also just happens to be a pro-vaping political ally. And on May 17, he sent a welcome letter to the new FDA Commissions Scott Gottlieb urging him to immediately overturn the Obama-era FDA deeming regulations that threaten to bankrupt the American vaping industry by 2018.
This is not the first time that The Badger State Senator has taken to writing somewhat urgently sounding letters to the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Well before Donald Trump won the presidential election in November, Johnson sent at least three such letters to the former FDA commissioner, Robert Califf, each lengthier and more demanding than the last.
However, Johnson’s pleas for more detailed information regarding the decision-making process behind the FDA deeming regulations has largely fallen on deaf ears. After the third attempt to extract information from Califf via an aggressive letter writing campaign, Johnson was so disturbed by the FDA’s return letter that he called it an “insufficient response.”
Will this latest attempt prove more fruitful? That remains to be seen. The added advantage is that this time around, Johnson has an FDA Chief appointed by a President from his own party.
FDA Commissioner receives first letter from Sen. Johnson
In his latest attempt to apply political pressure via a letter writing campaign, Johnson begins his conversation in a friendly and congratulatory tone on Gottlieb’s recent confirmation to this new post. But by the second sentence, Johnson launches into his usual plan of attack, outlining the various reasons that the FDA deeming regulations must be repealed immediately.
“The rule threatens an emerging industry as well as former smokers who have switched to vaping. The regulations require e-cigarette manufacturers to complete costly and time-consuming applications to get federal approval to sell e-cigarette products. Based on estimates, these applications could sot manufacturers, many of which are small businesses, more than $1 million to complete.”
Sen. Ron Johnson also mentions previous letters sent to members of the Trump Administration since the GOP won the White House. He references similarly worded documents sent to both Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Tom Price of the Department of Health and Human Services, both of whom outrank Gottlieb in the political food chain.
Will all of Johnson’s letter writing activities finally pay off in the end? Perhaps, or perhaps not. What Johnson may or may not remember is that Gottlieb promised during his senate confirmation hearing to recuse himself from any decisions regarding the vaping industry for his first year on office. Letters are great, but the American vaping industry needs much more from the GOP than letters. We need quick and decisive action.
A complete copy of the official Johnson letter to Gottlieb can be located online.
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