E-cigarette maker VMR's Seth Coblentz on why regulation is a drag

Alison Kanski talks to VMR's general counsel on regulation, international trade, and more.

How many government regulations of e-cigarette brands such as V2 does VMR Products deal with?
We deal with it on a case-by-case basis. Some common regulations are pretty standardized in the industry, including age restriction. It breaks down from there in the individual states.

We have to react to states that have stricter requirements, such as California’s extra packaging and Texas’s extra age. We have a strict policy with our ad campaigns or public statements that we don’t say our product is a smoking cessation device or make any health claims related to our device. We certainly can’t, and don’t, make our products appealing to children.

What about internationally?
We sell into Europe, which has the Tobacco Product Directive. The European Union says this is what it wants the law to be and member states transpose it to function within their nation. We’re trying to comply with a federal scheme in the EU and also monitor what each state is doing, which may not be consistent across the board.

How are you handling the new FDA oversight of e-cigarettes?
For now, at least, we have to confront it head on. It goes into effect August 8, so we have to hit the ground running with some of the requirements that begin then. We have not taken any action or gone toe to toe with the FDA or any state regulatory authority yet, but we are certainly evaluating our legal rights as it’s related to taking action against the FDA. We’re not alone in this either - one of our competitors filed a legal complaint against the FDA in court the same day the rule was published.

How many people work on these tiers of regulations?
As many as 30 people at any given time are partly or fully responsible for regulatory compliance. We have a board that represents the industry and its members. We also have some attorneys, lobbyists, outside regulatory counsel, and experts in Europe. We have a really strong team here that discusses issues and looks at them in terms of how they affect business and how to comply. It’s a group effort.

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