They generally provide a way to come to government regulatory groups with a We do this so you don’t have to defense. This often sets up industries to be regulated by themselves in a way that is maybe slightly less harsh than government regulators would. The exchange is that the government doesn’t have to spend the cash and man-hours to do the regulating itself. Often it also means less arguing over what appropriate regulation means because who better knows the issues the industry faces than the industry itself.
But that’s not all. Groups like AEMSA also play a unique role in advocacy. The most recent instance of this was AEMSA representatives meeting with reps from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — which are currently deciding if FDA proposed e-cig regs are worth the time and money it will cost to implement them.
There’s more on AEMSA’s visit right here.
Right now, there’s two real strong arguments for why smoking regs wouldn’t work on electronic cigarettes from a political standpoint. First, the tobacco and smoking regulations were created without electronic cigarettes in mind — focused almost entirely on reducing the harm of conventional tobacco cigarettes. Essentially, all the research and debate that went into the creation of tobacco regulation would need to begin again to determine appropriate regulation of an entirely different product (one that is electronic in nature and entirely different in chemical make-up).
Second, the regulations on tobacco products were designed in a way to punish a product known to ultimately kill half its users. They were designed to curb arguably the single greatest threat to public health on the planet. Electronic cigarettes are believed — by even opponents to the devices — to be far less harmful. Many experts put electronic cigarette harm at about 1% that of tobacco cigarettes. This make applying the same regulations at the same level hard to justify.
AEMSA is arguing for a more intelligent approach to electronic cigarettes regulation. At the moment, the OMB is the government group most in control of how regs proceed. Meetings with groups like AEMSA can only help the cause.