The “We Vape, We Vote” movement descended on D.C. this weekend to ask for continued access to smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes.
Dimitris Agrafiotis, executive director of the Tennessee Smoke-Free Association, traveled to the event to raise awareness. He said after trying gums and patches, vaping was the only thing that helped him successfully quit smoking 10 years ago at the age of 39.
“Ironically, my father died at the age of 39 from smoking when I was just 2 years old,” Agrafiotis said.
He joined the crowd at the “Save the Vape” rally held by the United Vapers Alliance to bring awareness to the Sept. 9 Pre-Market Tobacco Application deadline requirement for vapor products.
The group says that the Food and Drug Administration is threatening to shut down businesses that do not file PMTAs before the upcoming deadline.
The application is required for any new tobacco product and must provide scientific data data that “demonstrates a product is appropriate for the protection of public health,” according to the FDA.
Agrafiotis and others at the rally say that applying the requirement to vaping products is not fair as filling out the applications in order to sell vaping products can be costly.
And, adding that cost to the loss of income during the coronavirus pandemic could cause many shops to go under.
“What we’re looking at here is about 10,000 independent vape shops across America that are going to close down,” Agrafiotis said.
The rally was also working to bring awareness to the current pathway to market for vaping products.
“The FDA right now is trying to regulate it as a tobacco product, and I think it’s very important for consumers to understand that a vaping product contains no tobacco,” Agrafiotis said.
While some vape products contain a percentage of nicotine — an addictive chemical found in tobacco products — that nicotine is not necessarily derived from tobacco plants.
“The system or the way that it was set up to regulate these products doesn’t even match the category of product.”
Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas.