According to recent data, there is no better time than now to work in the retail industry. With the yearly wage growth for retail workers rising by nearly 5% last year alone, it is easy to see why.

As president of the North Dakota Retail Association, I am grateful for this important progress, that would not be possible without economic growth creating opportunities for retailers, both big and small.

In fact, positive economic growth helps all American families. The jobs report from March showed that over 190,000 new jobs were created in one month, unemployment has remained at a record low of 3.8% and wages are rising.

I appreciate that wage growth in the retail industry specifically is outpacing many other sectors of our economy. This is critical because the retail industry is vital to North Dakota, where one out of every five jobs are supported by retail stores. There are over 10,000 retail locations across the state and a large majority of retailers are small businesses.

One of the many keys to success for any retail location is government at all levels promoting a pro-growth agenda that removes burdensome regulations and allows the free market to work without impediment.

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While the Trump Administration generally has had many successes in creating economic growth through deregulation efforts and free-market policies, I am very concerned about the new e-cigarette guidelines announced by the Food and Drug Administration. It seems like the FDA is using the heavy hand of the government to implement ineffective guidelines on flavored e-cigarettes that pick winners and losers, and may hurt retailers across the state.

While the new FDA policies support an important goal, to stop the recent increase in teenage smoking, the evidence suggests this big government solution won’t work but will have many unintended consequences

By deciding that some retailers (tobacco stores and vape shops) should be allowed to continue selling certain flavored e-cigarettes, and other retailers (convenience and grocery stores) should not, the federal government is clearly providing unfair treatment to specific businesses. There is also no evidence to support why the FDA made this distinction between different types of retailers.

Even if the FDA policies were fair, they would still be ineffective. According to a recent study, most teenagers acquire their e-cigarettes and other vaporized products from people who are the legal age to purchase the product, not from purchasing them from retailers. There is nothing in the new FDA policy that would address this fact.

While I believe we should all work together to put an end to underage smoking, the evidence shows that this new policy will not achieve the desired result. What the new FDA guidelines will do is create unfair disadvantages in the retail industry, something that I cannot support.

Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer have an opportunity to help address teen smoking, while supporting retailers across the state. Together, through the Senate confirmation process, they can help make sure that the next FDA commissioner does not support ineffective and burdensome government policies that will only hurt North Dakota small businesses.