Guest Post: An Open Letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb

The following guest post was submitted by Kirk McCauley, Director of Government Affairs for WMDA/CAR, a trade association that represents service stations, convenience stores, and independent repair facilities in District of Columbia, Maryland and Delaware.

WMDA supported legislation in Maryland against selling Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, or “ENDS” to minors. Neither ENDS nor any tobacco product should be marketed toward children. We are 100% in agreement with Governor Hogan on this issue.

However, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has proposed regulations that would effectively end the sale of ENDS products in convenience stores and service stations. Denying access to e-cigarette products would not help Marylanders – in fact, it would hurt small business brick-and-mortar stores and favor huge online retailers that in most cases pay no state taxes.

By effectively limiting the sale of ENDS products to specialized retailers and online distributors, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb would also be giving an unfair advantage to certain businesses. As long as ENDS products are legal and able to be sold by online retailers, all retailers should have the opportunity to sell them. It’s a matter of fairness.

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Moreover, these regulations would encourage black market activity. As we have seen in similar cases, this promotes illegal street sales by unlicensed vendors selling out of back packs and back of vans. Maryland not only loses sales tax but also the special tax that is placed on ENDS products, which is substantial.

Whether it’s an online sale where age verification is never a sure thing, or illegal street sales where age is never verified, service stations and convenience stores win hands down as the best choice to sell these products, collect and forward these taxes to comptroller’s office. Just as we require identification to purchase tobacco products, we require purchasers of e-cigarette products to provide state-issued identification.

For all the reasons listed above, we consider the proposed regulations to be unnecessary and harmful. We hope that Commissioner Gottlieb will reconsider this position, and encourage fellow Marylanders to ask our elected officials to take a stand against this misguided proposal.

It’s not too late to change course – please consider the facts and do so.

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