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By COREY NOLES
Hundreds of business owners from around the nation gathered in Hollywood, Florida, in October to discuss and learn more about the new FDA regulations and how they will affect the industry.
The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) held its 2016 conference and expo at the Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, FL, October 19-21. The event, which included an expo for the first time, featured dozens of panels and speakers specifically geared toward helping shops and manufacturers prepare for the regulations ahead.
The organization brought in many names familiar to the industry including Azim Chowdhury, an attorney with Keller and Heckman; Greg Conley of the AVA; Julie Woessner of CASAA; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Kat York, Boosted general counsel and SFATA board member; Dr. Brad Rodu, senior fellow of the Heartland Institute.
The focus of the weekend was about how to fight and how to survive in the post-regulatory environment. Experts and business owners from around the country travelled to Florida gain clarification on how the new law will affect their business.
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Breakout sessions included how to stay compliant, labs within shops, how to navigate the PMTA process, an update on state and federal legislative strategies, a legal update from the first hearing of the Right 2 Be Smoke Free lawsuit, training for the December FDA registration, and a pre-recorded question and answer session with Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products.
The recorded call with Zeller, while revealing little new information, did seem to show that the FDA is still struggling with how to enforce the regulations as well. He struggled to answer a variety of questions, when hit with specific concerns from vendors.
Chowdhury’s update on the Right 2 Be Smoke Free lawsuit was also of particular interest. He said that he felt the judge asked equally difficult questions of both parties, but cautioned against making any early judgments. A
SFATA hosted a charity cocktail reception on Thursday night during the event. A silent auction offered dozens of items for sale, with all proceeds going to SFATA to help with expenses. A casino night theme kept attendees busy for the remainder of the night.
The expo took place following each day’s workshops. While it was a smaller expo, the conference portion of the week did bring through several hundred business owners.