An interview with Turning Point Brands’ Brittani Cushman

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Brittani Cushman of Turning Point Brands

As anyone working in the embattled tobacco industry well knows, this is a business that routinely faces new regulatory challenges at every level. Staying abreast of the latest developments can be hard, particularly for smaller companies. Fortunately, however, the industry has found ways to band together over the years, often through industry associations that enable the pooling of resources and sharing of legal expertise.

The Vapor Technology Association (VTA) is one such entity, devoted to executing federal and state lobbying and public affairs strategies to protect the vapor industry. VTA draws on the expertise of a board made up of industry veterans who employ their extensive expertise in legal and regulatory matters to serve as champions for the industry. Tobacco Business recently caught up with Brittani Cushman, VTA board president, National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) board member, and vice president of external affairs for Turning Point Brands, which owns Vapor Beast, as well as a number of OTP brands, including Zig-Zag. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

As anyone working in the embattled tobacco industry well knows, this is a business that routinely faces new regulatory challenges at every level. Staying abreast of the latest developments can be hard, particularly for smaller companies. Fortunately, however, the industry has found ways to band together over the years, often through industry associations that enable the pooling of resources and sharing of legal expertise.

The Vapor Technology Association (VTA) is one such entity, devoted to executing federal and state lobbying and public affairs strategies to protect the vapor industry. VTA draws on the expertise of a board made up of industry veterans who employ their extensive expertise in legal and regulatory matters to serve as champions for the industry. Tobacco Business recently caught up with Brittani Cushman, VTA board president, National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) board member, and vice president of external affairs for Turning Point Brands, which owns Vapor Beast, as well as a number of OTP brands, including Zig-Zag. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

Tobacco Business: Tell us a little about your background and how you got involved with the vapor industry.
Brittani Cushman: My initial four years in the industry, I did [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] (FDA) and state legal compliance as general counsel for a company called Excaliber International. A few years after I had been there, I joined National Tobacco Company, which is known as Turning Point Brands. Turning Point then acquired Vapor Beast and Vapor Shark. That was not their first foray into vapor, but
[it was] their biggest step into that segment of the industry. Today, I focus on all external affairs of the company, so a big component of that is regulatory affairs.

We have a very broad portfolio—we essentially sell just about everything but cigarettes, so we are constantly monitoring all sorts of issues. It happens that vapor tends to be in the crosshairs lately—and some of what affects vapor, such as flavor regulation or tax proposals, affects other tobacco products.

Vapor Shark from Turning Point Brands