U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed into law a spending bill that gives the Food and Drug Administration authority over synthetic nicotine.
The language of the Tobacco Control Act will now change to define a tobacco product as “any product made or derived from tobacco, or containing nicotine from any source, that is intended for human consumption.”
The amendment comes into effect 30 days after the bill’s enactment. Manufacturers of products made with synthetic nicotine will then have an additional 30 days to submit a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) to the FDA. If FDA has not authorized the product within 90 days after the effective date, the product must be removed from the market.
According to Bryan Haynes, a partner with Troutman Pepper, the measure could amount to an effective ban on synthetic nicotine products. “FDA is highly unlikely to authorize a PMTA in 90 days when other PMTAs for electronic nicotine delivery systems have been pending for more than two years,” he wrote on the law firm’s blog.
April Meyers, board president for the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) suspects the bill will have little effect on youth vaping, which is already down significantly since highs in 2015. “Although the sponsors of the bill claim the intent was to close the loophole on synthetic nicotine-derived products from large companies now popular among youth, the reality is that this bill—and others like it—aren’t likely to have the intended effect,” she said. “Instead, consumers using these products as a harm reduction option will suffer, as will licensed small businesses in full compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
“The FDA created a problem by overregulating a product used by millions of adults who find vaping a safer alternative to smoking. When a market in high demand is overregulated, grey and black markets emerge where there are no regulations requiring safe products or ID checks.”
The FDA appears keen to crack down on synthetic nicotine. During his Senate confirmation hearing, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf vowed to close what he described as the synthetic nicotine “loophole.”