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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Small, personalized vapor products are coming under fire from Big Tobacco.
A division of Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) submitted a 119-page document to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommending the agency ban the use of vapor electronic cigarettes, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Winston-Salem-based RAI's submission comes as its subsidiary R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. rolls out its VUSE electronic cigarette nationwide.
Traditional e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a self-contained disposable cartridge and create a vapor that is inhaled. To date, manufacturers of traditional e-cigarettes have provided few flavor choices. By comparison, vapor products can feature a liquid capsule that is inserted into a cartridge, known as an open-system format. Vapors offer consumers a wider variety of flavors, including fruits and candy, the news outlet reported.
"We believe FDA should not allow such products to be sold or marketed," Reynolds spokesman David Howard told the news outlet. "We believe open-system vapor products create unique public health risks. These systems are highly subject to adulteration and tampering; they are manufactured largely overseas in facilities that would, as proposed, fall outside regulatory inspection and oversight; and many nicotine liquids are sold in non-child-resistant packaging in flavors that may be appealing to youth."
The other two major tobacco companies, Richmond, Va.-based The Altria Group Inc. and Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Inc., also submitted recommendations to the FDA during a public comment period that expired in August. Those recommendations were less stringent, according to the report.
"R.J. Reynolds' call for the FDA to ban the majority of e-cigarette products should be seen for what it really is -- an admission by R.J. Reynolds that it simply cannot compete in the current e-cigarette market," Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said in a statement. "Recent market reports show that while sales of open-system e-cigarette products and e-liquid are booming, sales of closed-system cigarette lookalikes — the kind that R.J. Reynolds sells — have stagnated."
In his statement, Conley cited surveys that indicate vapers who use refillable, open-system products are "far more likely to be smoke-free than those who use closed-system products that are designed to resemble and taste like cigarettes."
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, RAI said if the FDA does allow open-system vapor products to be sold, it "should create a level playing field on which all manufacturers of non-combustible deemed product categories are subject to equal treatment."