According to Judicial Watch a new FDA vaping lawsuit has been filed by the non-profit organization against the US Department of Health and Human Services. The lawsuit alleges that the HHS failed to abide by the Freedom of Information Act by failing to provide documentation regarding e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers.
Are Vaporizers Safe?
This legal action by the Judicial Watch actually began after a 2016 ruling that placed e-cigarette products in the same risk category as traditional tobacco products, essentially limiting their sale and use and severely restricting the market.
This decision was made despite numerous studies showing that e-cigarette vapor produced significantly fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes. There was much conversation over whether or not the US Food and Drug Administration and the HHS took those studies into account, acted for the betterment of public health, or whether Big Tobacco lobbied to influence the decision.
March FOIA Requests
Following the FDA decision, Judicial Watch contacted the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and the US Surgeon General’s office requesting any and all emails and other materials relating to the decision that was made.
All three agencies failed to respond to the FOIA request within the 20-day time limit. The Judicial Watch acts as a watchdog agency in these matters and subsequently filed a suit in district court against the HHS for compliance.
The complaint requests that the court order HHS to search all records and provide all relevant emails, memos and other materials on the decision, or provide reasons for why those materials should be exempt from FOIA rules.
The Big Picture
In the past, the FDA has openly admitted that they did not have adequate research available to make an informed decision about e-cigarettes. Nevertheless, they went ahead with their regulations causing an uproar in the vapor community.
Many people believe that the documents requested by Judicial Watch will give some insight into the factors that led the FDA to make their decision, and perhaps pave the way toward better regulations if it can be proved that the current ruling was not in the best interest of the general public.
Primarily, vapers hope to see evidence that members of the FDA disregarded the research that was available at the time, no matter how limited, to hand down rulings favorable to pharmaceutical and tobacco companies.
This lawsuit is especially important given the regulations recently enacted in the UK and other parts of the world where e-cigarettes are being lauded as the best available alternative to smoking.