For the e-cigarette community, knowing the governmental stakeholders, along with the missions of each stakeholder, can provide a basic insight into the complexities of governmental intervention.
By getting an understanding about some of these stakeholders, the e-cigarette community can better understand not only the obstacles which the e-cigarette industry must overcome but also identify allies to help overcome or mitigate those obstacles.
Federal Governmental Agencies
Before going into each individual agency, the e-cigarette community can depend that, on the whole, these agencies fall into the obstacle category.
For the e-cigarette industry, the governmental stakeholders theoretically have unique missions, but, as with governmental entities, the actuality where one entity begins and another ends is so unclear that distinguishing which entity the e-cigarette falls under is, at best, described as convoluted.
Just as it began the attack on cigarettes, the Office of the Surgeon General will expand its anti-tobacco commitment to include the e-cigarette.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mission, as stated by the head of the FDA in its “Strategic Priorities 2011-2015,” is to “protect and promote the public health.” Under the assumption that “there is no known safe tobacco product,” the e-cigarette community has already won one big battle with the FDA.
To-date, use of the e-cigarette on commercial airlines has been at the discretion of the airline company. According to recent information, the Department of Transportation will be issuing a regulation, going into effect in the spring 2012, prohibiting the use of the e-cigarette on all airlines.
Part of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) mission is “to prevent criminal encroachment of the legitimate . . . tobacco industries organizations.” Basically, ATF is a law enforcement agency, not a policy making agency as is the FDA. Consequently, in many ways the ATF protects the e-cigarette industry, as long as the taxes are paid.
For the e-cigarette industry, the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which is responsible for all inquiries in regards to regulating the . . . tobacco industries . . . and for the collection of taxes, seems to be one of those seldom referenced but possibly problematic governmental bureaus. Depending on how TTB approaches is regulating ability; it can be either an ally or an obstacle for the e-cigarette manufacturer.
Another governmental entity that the e-cigarette community would probably readily name is the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). However, how many e-cigarette users would know the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), FTC (Federal Trade Commission), HIS (Indian Health Service), OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), or SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), just to name the most acknowledged.
Not To Be Overlooked
Nevertheless, the e-cigarette community must not forget to whom these governmental entities, and any other governmental entity that enters the e-cigarette discussion, depend; specifically, the USC (the United States Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives), the EB (Executive Branch, headed by the President), and the Judiciary. While many of the e-cigarette community may consider these overseers as an obstacle, time has shown that pragmatism may prevail, especially where federal revenue is concerned.