The headline to this article is slightly misleading. They aren’t talking about just a ban on flavoured tobacco in California, they’re talking about a ban on flavoured tobacco and flavoured e-cigarette products. I still think it’s important to differentiate between the two.
This is all part of a recent crackdown on e-cigarettes and their fruity, sugary flavours. The e-cigarette industry isn’t really fooling anyone when they claim they aren’t marketing to kids when they make flavours like “Smurf grape” and bubble gum.
Juul has apparently agreed to stop sales of some of its sweet flavours. Candy-flavoured cigarettes were banned some time ago, but Swisher sweet cigars, a long-established product and menthol cigarettes were still allowed.
Now, the FDA is moving to ban all flavoured tobacco products and menthol cigarettes. That move could be tied up in courts for a while, because menthol cigarettes are BIG business (roughly about 10 percent of cigarette sales) and the tobacco industry simply isn’t going to go down without a fight.
The City of San Francisco banned the sale of flavoured e-cig products and several state legislators in California are proposing a similar statewide ban.
Here’s my attitude about the sweet flavours. If e-cigs are really designed to help get smokers off cigarettes, then the draw should be the nicotine, not the flavour of the steam. By having strawberry and lemon-lime and what have you flavours, this to me is pretty clearly just part of the e-cig’s craven tactic of making their products appealing to kids — who are not using e-cigs to get off cigarettes, they’re using e-cigs to get addicted to nicotine to begin with.
Anyway, I hope the bill passes and in California, it probably has a good chance to pass. The day of reckoning for the e-cig industry has arrived, I think.
Well, this is progress, I wonder if it will have any effect.
The FDA announced that it will soon ban the sale of e-cig flavourings at minimarts. This is in response to the rapid rise of e-cig use by teenagers. The FDA warned a few weeks ago that it was cracking down on e-cigs because of the epidemic of teen e-cig use. So, this is apparently step one.
Also, cartridge-based e-cig products like Juuls will no longer be allowed to be sold at convenience stores. Sales will be limited to tobacco and vaping shops. Juuls are relatively news, they’ve only been around a year or two, but their use has exploded (not literally) among teens.
That seriously limits the venues that e-cig flavours and Juuls will be sold at — basically from millions of convenience stores around the country to about 10,000 estimated tobacco and vaping stores. It won’t stop kids from trying to buy them, but will make it harder. And tobacco and vaping stores are more regulated than convenience stores.
The FDA, and this is a big one I think, is also going to impose more rules and regulations on online sales of vaping products, requiring stricter standards for age verification. Today, any kid with their own debit card can just click on “yes, I’m 18” on most of these sites.
Will these be enough to stop the epidemic of kids using e-cigs? Only time will tell, but the FDA suggested this is just the beginning of the steps that it plans to crack down on the industry and its lax attitude toward teen vaping.
From an NBC News article on the FDA’s move:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that adult smoking rates have dropped to their lowest level yet, at 14 percent. But the CDC found that 47.4 million U.S. adults , or 19 percent of the adult population, uses any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigarettes.
Public health experts have been complaining that the fruity, candy-like flavors found in e-cigarettes are targeted directly at children and teenagers, and rates of teen cigarette use have soared.
The FDA has also expressed concern about online sales to teens. In September, the FDA made an unannounced visit to Juul headquarters to look for evidence about the company’s marketing practices. In April, the agency launched what it called a “blitz” to stop retailers from selling vaping products to underage children. And it has warned several online sites about sales.
Next week, the FDA will do more, the official said.
“We’re also going to restrict online sales only to sites that put in place specific age verification measures and limit access to kids that we are going to specify in guidance,” the official said.
“This is just the first step. We will consider other steps if use doesn’t come down, and sharply.”
Tobacco advocates question if the FDA is going far enough.
Public health groups including the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Truth Initiative and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, have been urging the FDA to move faster and to remove Juul from the market until it undergoes an FDA review.
“To reverse the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the FDA needs to stop the sales of all flavored e-cigarette products that have not been subject to public health review by the FDA as the law requires,” the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Truth Initiative said in a joint statement.
“There is nothing to prevent the number of vape shops from rapidly expanding and there is no solid evidence that vape shops do a good job of preventing illegal underage sales. In addition, youth use of e-cigarettes is not limited to Juul and other pod-type products. Even before the introduction of Juul, e-cigarettes had become the most commonly used tobacco product among kids and research found that 81 percent of youth who ever tried e-cigarettes started with a flavored product.”
Oooh, I will DEFINITELY be keeping my eye on this one. The Food and Drug Administration is apparently mulling the possibility of banning vaping flavours and is reviewing any regulations that are needed for Juuls, as well.
Juuls are a fairly new type of e-cigarette that doesn’t look like an e-cig at all. It looks like a little flash drive that plugs into a laptop computer … and they DO plug into laptop computers in order to recharge.
Anyway, for now the FDA is doing anything, but will be starting an anti-teen vaping initiative in mid-September.
This month, the FDA asked four e-cigarette companies for information about the appeal of their products to youths and said it could take enforcement action against the companies based on what it learns.
In mid-September, the FDA will launch a vaping prevention campaign targeting 10 million youths who vape or are open to trying it, Scott Gottlieb said. It will continue enforcement against retailers that sell to minors.
“We are very concerned that we could be addicting a whole generation of young people,” Gottlieb said. “We only have a narrow window of opportunity to address it.”
Instead of committing to regulate flavor, the FDA solicited more research on flavor’s role. Robin Koval, CEO of the anti-tobacco group Truth Initiative, said there is ample evidence that flavors attract teens.
USA Today interviewed a bunch of young college students who vaped. The interview that really jumped out at me came from Kevin Kee.
From the article:
Kevin Kee, 22, took up vaping to give up smoking when he was starting college but found himself going back to smoking again when he noticed the Juul was “more ingrained in my life than cigarettes ever were.”
“With the Juul, you can vape anywhere, 24/7. I went through pods way quicker – I could go through a pod in one day,” Kee said. “My tolerance was higher, and I didn’t want that kind of life coming out of college.”
Kee said he thinks people who vape to quit smoking are a minority and most people “vape just to vape.” Out of college and working, he’s given up cigarettes and vaping but fears a flavor ban would really hurt others.
“It’s become so ingrained in our culture that banning flavored nicotine would be like the prohibition,” he said.
People vape just to vape, not to quit cigarettes. I’m all for people using ecigs to get off cigarettes. What I’m not all for is kids 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds becoming addicted to nicotine to begin with via ecigs or Juuls.
Gottlieb also said that the FDA is keeping an eye on Juuls and for its alleged marketing to teens.
Also from the USA TODAY article regarding the controversial and relatively new Juuls:
A class-action lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Juul users alleged that the vaping giant used a two-pronged approach to target adult smokers and teens.
One San Diego teen said she was introduced to Juul by eighth-grade classmates. When her device broke last November, she obtained a warranty replacement through Juul’s website even though she was only 14, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges Juul targeted youth and nonsmokers through ads and “social media blitzes” using “alluring imagery.” Adult smokers were wooed with the promise of a lower or equal amount of nicotine compared with a cigarette even though the product is designed to be more potent and addictive than cigarettes, the lawsuit says.
“On a puff-for-puff basis, this was designed to be more powerful than the gold standard – the cigarette,” said Esfand Nafisi, a San Francisco Bay Area attorney representing Juul users. “That potency was either not disclosed or misrepresented continuously from the time of the company’s inception.”
So, the moral of the story goes … teen smoking has been all but eliminated, but the struggle continues, and likely will always continue as long as nicotine is a legal product and companies are looking to make billions off of it by attracting new users … be it cigarettes, e-cigs or Juuls. I suspect it will be a never-ending battle.