FDA Snubs Senate Inquiry as Expected, Committee Will Pursue

(NOTE: As of June 21st, 2016, this article is taking heavy web traffic. I have a call into the Mr. Wittmann and will report back with the news of yesterday’s deadline ASAP.)

(NOTE: As of June 23rd, 2016, the Committee has not been unresponsive to requests for an update, however, due to Committee rules, the exact details of recent events in this ongoing matter are not yet available. They will be at meaningful and permitted points along the way. As previously reported, Senator Johnson and the Committee take this matter even more seriously now than ever and are fully committed to seeing it through to the end. As vapers, we need to be careful not to impede their efforts, but they do appreciate the continued public support.)

The deadline for the Food and Drug Administration’s response to an inquiry from the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs requesting justification for a defacto ban on vapor products that would end an industry of an estimated 30,000 small businesses, came and went yesterday at 5pm eastern time with nothing reported by the Committee on their website or by the news media. I made a phone call to their headquarters this morning and was sent to a voicemail box which I feared would be the end of my search for information. My fears were completely unfounded. About an hour after my message, I received a phone call from Mr. Scott Wittmann, a staffer who works closely with Sen. Johnson.

Words can not express how impressive Mr. Wittmann’s knowledge of the dynamics of the FDA Final Ruling Deeming Vapor Products as Tobacco is. He reports he is neither a vapor nor has ever been a smoker, but there was no difference in his level of awareness of this situation than that of any of the very well informed advocacy figures with whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking. I wanted to write notes on the conversation while it was still fresh in my mind.

Mr. Wittmann reports the FDA did not respond. They did not indicate a need for more time to respond or attempt to schedule an appointment. He was completely professional in our entire conversation, but my interpretation is the FDA simply snubbed the Committee. I don’t find this surprising considering the dead-to-rights violations of federal laws protecting small businesses in the FDA’s own writing on the matter.

Mr. Wittmann was intensely interested in my experience as a former smoker who now exclusively vapes and also my experience as the owner of a small shop with 4 employees. He asked about our customers and seemed to be genuinely interested in expanding his understanding of our struggles and the possible future of the industry both with and without the FDA’s defacto ban on our existence.

I asked him what the next steps are for the Committee. He reports there are several steps to take with clear historic examples of how to proceed. The initial steps are simply “louder” requests, but should those requests remain unfulfilled, the eventual endpoint is a subpoena creating the opportunity for FDA management to be formally charged with contempt of Congress.

I asked him what the Committee’s specific powers were to enforce changes on the FDA’s ruling. A direct answer to this question is too complicated for a simple phone call, most likely over-complicated because of the two centuries of precedence fueled by political maneuvering. But the general summary I can give from our conversation is direct action by the Committee will likely not be necessary.

The Committee seeks first to expose information for the public. This information then becomes available to private interests who can and are filing lawsuits to stop the FDA. The Committee’s expectation is these lawsuits will be successful and they see their role as helping to bring relevant information to light to make these lawsuits easier to pursue.

In the end, I am completely elated to have had an experience much different than I expected. Instead of a terse, rehearsed brush off with soulless reassurances the “leaders” were working at a level I could not understand, I engaged in a genuine conversation with a man fighting for interests he did not directly share. Mr. Wittmann and Sen. Johnson are working on behalf of Americans. That is the interest group they hope to protect. They are working to promote the entire country’s freedom to choose.

Mr. Wittmann, I believe, now has a greater understanding of how the vapor product industry affects all Americans more directly than he initially understood. Our freedoms need protected, but on a closer level, the outcry from the vaping community to the Committee has produced a greater understanding of the opportunity to truly improve the public health by reducing or eliminating tobacco’s well-known harm and previously-unstoppable perpetuation.

Mr. Wittmann also said he briefs Sen. Johnson on all conversations and my comments and support of the Committee in this matter would be expressed and is appreciated. To the vaping community, I am happy to say my impression is we, as a community, have gained a true ally in our fight. We, as a community, have been “surprising”, “passionate”, and “compelling”. The positive image we have managed to bring to the Committee has made a difference.

Vape on and stay strong,
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25 replies
  1. judy
    judy says:

    Many thanks for taking the time and effort to do this interview with Mr.Wittmann, and writing up this update for us. Very informative, and very encouraging!

  2. David Phillips
    David Phillips says:

    Thanks for all your efforts, my company employes 12 people with families! The impact of the FDA’s deeming regs could do much greater damage to the economy then the FDA has “any clue” of….keep us all posted and donate to advocacy.

  3. James
    James says:

    Thank you so much for the update. I’ve been vaping for 11 months coming up on a year in July. So I’m hoping for my fellow vapors and future vapors that they can share and enjoy all that I have shared and enjoyed. Let’s keep fighting we can win this war!!!!

  4. Graeme Huff
    Graeme Huff says:

    Thank you very much for your persistence in these matters . I am glad to get an update on this issue and appreciate your efforts in making sure our views and experiences as a community are heard. Very informative and we’ll written.

  5. Will Kimbro
    Will Kimbro says:

    Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to make this call and to post this information. As a Vaper and small business owner of a local vape shop here in SC, it brings me hope to know that I might still be able to provide a roof over my family’s head, food on their table and clothes on their backs. Again, thank you!

  6. Nicole Boynton
    Nicole Boynton says:

    Thank you so much for keeping us posted and I sincerely hope to see true common sense regulations so we’re seen as a legit industry without having to be forced into a black market just to continue to save our lives & those who have yet to quit from an out of control, overreaching government. It’s important all vapers only support vendors, shops etc that support advocacy groups in every possible way, and as individuals contributing our own money to fund our collective fight. Your time and effort is greatly appreciated!

  7. J.Chadwick
    J.Chadwick says:

    Thank you for doing your job. In this time regulation is just done for profit and favors, not for what’s best for the citizens of this great nation. You are truly sticking your neck out there for the greater good with small business and the patrons of our country in mind. Not knowing if I’m allowed to put these word in writing, but here goes, God Bless you and help with this battle.

    John Chadwick
    Go Green Recycling & Hauling

  8. Mark Stave
    Mark Stave says:

    Thank you for the update, I got here from a repost from reddit. Glad to hear that that the Senator has good staff working on the issue

  9. Katie Shields
    Katie Shields says:

    Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the vaping community! It is very encouraging to know we have such wonderful support in Mr. Whittman & Sen. Johnson. I look forward to seeing where this leads & will do what I can to help protect our rights.

    Katie Shields

  10. Cory vapes life
    Cory vapes life says:

    Thank you,sincerely, from the bottom of my heart and top of my smoke free lungs, for the info and update. The fact that the FDA even tries this, makes me sick to my stomach! Vaping saved my life and probably everyone who commented before and after me and they want to strip it out of our hands!?! And for what,.”MONEY,GREED,POWER” no longer can they just step on people like bugs, we have come together and made voices heard, and if you haven’t done so yet, (and I know you will ), just do it. Look up your local representatives and just drop em an email, tell them your story and what vaping means to you, ask them where do they stand on things. Let’s be heard! Vape4life

  11. Broony
    Broony says:

    This does help to know it IS worth to keep on fighting to stay smoke free. Every day, recently, I have read stories of non/never smokers that are starting to understand Vaping will not hurt them (or the cheeldren) whilst helping ex-smokers to stay smoke free. Maybe just maybe more non & never smokers will except Vaping as a good thing, for us, for the economy.

  12. Kimberly Reed
    Kimberly Reed says:

    Thanks so much for representing our wonderful community, it is so nice to know someone up top has our backs….

  13. William S.
    William S. says:

    Thankyou Steve for contacting Sen. Johnson’s office and posting the results! Yes! Looks like we finaly have a governmental advocate in Sen. Johnson! Again, well done mate! Well done..

  14. James Miller
    James Miller says:

    Good to here the news that there are people fighting for our rights to enjoy something. Hope the fight continues and thee FDA is stopped

  15. James Miller
    James Miller says:

    Thank you for the informative update. I have been vaping now for 8 months and can feel the difference since I quit smoking. I am very encouraged that the fight against the FDA will continue and a good outcome may happen.


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