Letters: Readers weigh in on issues of the day

Farmington Daily Times
Letters to the Editor

Stop FDA’s vaping regulations

What if you had a new, popular technology that was creating hundreds of new jobs for New Mexicans in this economically challenging time? What if, at the same time, this technology was replacing an old, more harmful product that had been detrimental to Americans’ health for decades?

Smart politicians would push to encourage and incentivize this life-saving technology. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. A burgeoning industry could be under attack from bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. There is a debate going on right now in Congress over how to fix new Food and Drug Administration vapor product regulations that would gravely disrupt the new vaping industry unless those FDA rules are amended.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 480,000 people die from smoking in the United States alone every year. The health effects of vaping are being studied and debated, but study after study has found vaping to be safer than smoking. Vaping has also helped large numbers of people quit smoking.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., can continue to help improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people annually by supporting the Cole-Bishop amendment already passed by the House of Representatives in an agricultural spending bill this year. The amendment would prevent the FDA from applying an arbitrary application and approval date – also known as the predicate date – to existing vaping technology. If the Congress fails to fix the FDA rules, our federal government could be complicit in keeping smoking rates higher than they would otherwise be.

Sen. Heinrich, along with New Mexico’s delegation as a whole, should work to correct the ill-conceived predicate date of the FDA’s rules.

It is not difficult. Regulators must take their cues from Congress and, while further study and even some reasonable regulations are worth consideration, there is growing consensus that vaping is a safer alternative. For that reason alone, it is impossible to justify the FDA’s currently-proposed regulatory scheme which would effectively prohibit almost all of the vapor products in the marketplace today until they have been subjected to FDA’s complex approval process.

And then there are the jobs. New Mexico faces the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation at 6.7 percent. More than 4,200 New Mexicans lost their jobs in September alone. 
While they may disagree on how to do it, New Mexico’s entire congressional delegation acknowledges the need for more jobs back home. And, when it comes to private sector jobs, two of New Mexico’s real growth areas are in micro-breweries and the vaping sector.

No matter what you think about the viability or morality of these industries, the fact is that people today are demanding unique, locally-brewed beer and unique, safer ways of consuming nicotine. These industries are paying millions of dollars in taxes and employing thousands of people throughout our state. If Sen. Heinrich is serious about doing what he can to preserve and expand job opportunities in our economically-troubled state, it would behoove him to help amend the FDA rules so that they do not inadvertently wreck an industry that is providing worthwhile benefits to consumers.

Average New Mexicans, especially vape users, traditional smokers, and those trying to quit, can help by contacting Sen. Heinrich and their respective representative and tell them to “Fix the FDA’s new vaping rules!”

Paul J. Gessing

Rio Grande Foundation President


Fewer teens are drinking and driving 

As the holidays approach, let’s take a quick look at a couple of statistics on teen drinking and driving.  The news is good!

Traffic crashes that involve alcohol impaired teens (15 to 19 years of age) have decreased from 26 in 2004 to 12 in 2014 (the most recent data available).  Nine out of 10 of our high school students in San Juan County don’t drink and drive (2015 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey).

Statistics also show that 0.3 percent of underage drinkers bought their alcohol in a restaurant or bar.

This information clearly demonstrates that we are doing something right in San Juan County.

It also shows the positive effect that our law enforcement agencies have in enforcing DWI laws and conducting alcohol sales compliance checks in restaurants and bars.

The holidays will soon be here and we would like to thank our local law enforcement agencies for the work that they do to keep us all safe.  Evidence shows that clear rules and consistent enforcement reduce underage drinking.

Let’s all support our police officers and sheriff’s deputies as they work for us throughout the holiday season.

Pamela Drake

Executive Director

San Juan County Partnership