Local Business Owner Urges Rep. Hal Rogers to Support Job-Protecting Amendment

Staff Report

PRESTONBURG — Kristi Kendall, co-owner of Kickin’ Ash, urges U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) to support the Cole-Bishop amendment and defend small businesses in Kentucky and across the country.

The vaping industry as we know it, and all of the Kentucky jobs created by the industry, may cease to exist by August 2018, unless Rep. Rogers intervenes. The FDA’s decision to regulate vapor products as ‘tobacco products’ will effectively bankrupt small businesses, displace thousands of employees, and harm public health.

“We’ve really seen a sense of community develop around the shop,” Kendall said. “In two years, that community will vanish, and we won’t be able to do what we know best, which is helping people find a smoking alternative with ease and relative safety. That’s why this amendment is so crucial to our community and the industry as a whole.”

The Cole-Bishop amendment would modernize the FDA’s current standards and stop the agency from banning 99%-plus of vaping products in August 2018. If this amendment is not passed into law, all vaping products that have been released since February 2007 — every product on the market today – would have to retroactively undergo a potentially multimillion-dollar approvals process.

“If you were writing a regulation with the goal of helping major tobacco companies, destroying small businesses, and eliminating local jobs, this is how you would do it,” said Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit organization that champions vapor products as alternatives to combustible tobacco products.

At Kickin’ Ash, which has two storefronts in Kentucky as well as a manufacturing facility, seven people will lose their jobs and $400,000 in economic impact will cease to exist. Kickin’ Ash has been in business for two years, and has grown exponentially since its creation.

Kendall says the current regulation will wipe out a decade of innovation in the vaping industry, and the older products, those developed before the 2007 predicate date, won’t cut it for the consumer. Kendall and her partner feel an obligation to help their customers and to the vaping community as a whole to protect the industry and help people quit smoking. They strive to create a sense of belonging for each person that walks through the shop doors, and worry what might happen if the Cole-Bishop amendment is not passed.

Between 9 and 10 million Americans regularly use vaping products, many as an alternative to or a transition away from tobacco products. Earlier this year, the Royal College of Physicians released a landmark report estimating that vaping is at least 95% less hazardous than smoking.

The Cole-Bishop amendment would save local businesses and jobs, while at the same time allowing the FDA to set product standards and uniformly regulate all vapor products. When Congress passes its omnibus funding bill later this year, Rep. Rogers should stand up for these life-changing technology products by fighting to keep the Cole-Bishop amendment in the final package.

To learn more about the American Vaping Association, visit: http://vaping.org.

Staff Report

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