Submitted by Kim Thompson, owner of Vaporium
For nearly six years, I have had the privilege of operating a business in Washington that helps smokers find a less harmful alternative. As a self-starting businesswoman, I am committed to continuing to build my business, employ more people, and keep the vaping community alive and politically active in Washington.
During the last year, though, my personal commitment has been matched up against reality – new rules from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) that are threatening to not only close my business and hundreds of others like mine in the State of Washington, but also send many individuals back to smoking traditional tobacco products.
What can we do to stop this? Our district representative, U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer, should voice support to halt the FDA’s current path to near-prohibition and instead put in place smarter and more advanced regulations. With the FDA steadfastly refusing to consider alternatives, it is the responsibility of Congress to save local businesses and jobs, while at the same time directing the FDA to set product standards and uniformly regulate all vapor products.
I opened the Vaporium as a single employee. As my business grew, so did my customer base. One by one, my customers quit smoking and switched completely over to vaping. In fact, many of my customers even began volunteering at Vaporium during my first year of business in hopes to get more and more people to change over to the smoking alternative. Over the years, I have received a number of thank you cards from customers and from kids of customers thanking me and the Vaporium community for providing their family an alternative to tobacco.
Along with creating a community with Vaporium, I am also a strong advocate through the Pink Lung Brigade, a non-profit organization whose goal is to strengthen regulation regarding under-age usage of any product containing nicotine, ensure proper packaging of e-liquid to include child-resistant caps, tamper-evident seals, warning labels, and ingredient listings. The Pink Lung Brigade strives to protect the advancements being made in the vaping industry while also working to educate the public and legislators to a burgeoning industry.
A vital part of keeping Vaporium in business and Pink Lung Brigade thriving is for Congress to change the FDA’s current standards. Without such a change, only the largest tobacco companies – the same people selling Marlboros and Camels – will have a chance of being able to afford to keep their e-cigarette products on the market.
Changing these rules is the only option we have and we are hopeful, just so long as our representatives are on our side. I urge Congressman Kilmer to stand up for this life-changing technology by cosponsoring HR 1163, a piece of bipartisan legislation designed to save businesses and give the FDA new powers to regulate.
The people of the state of Washington deserve the right to a tobacco alternative. If the FDA’s regulations are allowed to stand, there will be a rise in tobacco use and increased medical care needs across the country. Vaporium, the vape industry and vape users in Washington and across the country are counting on Congress’ support of changing the FDA’s regulations to not only to preserve the vaping community, but to give tobacco smokers a choice.