The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb recently declared youth vaping an epidemic. The commissioner further announced that the FDA was working hard to see to it that the sales of flavored electronic cigarettes are halted if the major manufacturers fail to provide concrete proof that they are keeping them out of the reach of children and teens. To this effect, the FDA has given up to 60 days to manufacturers such as Juul, Vuse, Markten, XL, Blu and Logic etc to submit robust plans aimed at preventing youth vaping. According to reports, the FDA could order some products off the market if it doesn’t think their plans are great enough. It is however worthy to note that these 5 brands targeted by the FDA make up to 97 percent of the e-cigarette market in the USA
The approach taken by the FDA was however arrived at after reviewing a preliminary data on youth vaping. According to Gottlieb, teenagers have become regular users, with the proportion of regular users increasing. More than 2 million middle, high school and college students are reported to be using the battery-powered devices to hit liquid based nicotine via an inhalable vapor. It is equally apparent that e-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco products among teenagers. According to the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, an estimated 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students use the device on a monthly basis.
Parents have however urged the FDA to go farther in restricting youths from vaping. According to an Ohio parent, Kelli Cogan, his 15 years old son succeeded in getting free Juul cartridges online by merely using his father’s names while ensuring that they are shipped to a different address. Even though Juul offered to bloc her husband’s name, Cogan still feels that wasn’t sufficient. However, a spokeswoman of Juul, Victoria Davis revealed that the company has improved its processes as it currently requires an age-verification signature upon delivery. Davis equally asserted that Juul has made many more changes that are geared towards protecting against the distribution of e-cigarettes to children who are below the legal vaping age of their state.
However, there are indications that the FDA‘s new approach is a lot faster than the changes that have been made by companies like Juul. Of course, the changes made by cigarette makers were largely criticized by public health advocates who claimed they were either too little and too late.
According to reports, no brand will be immune from regulations simply because they were already on the market as far back as 2016, when the FDA announced that e-cigarettes just like other tobacco products will be regulated. Also, companies whose products had been ordered off the market would have to prove that they currently have a net positive public health benefit before they will ever resume sales.
According to the Lewis Lambros, the Director of the Utah Smoke Free Association and co-owner of a popular vape shop called Vapor Dreams, many people want to get away from the taste of tobacco. His revelation, therefore explains why the tobacco industry is currently offering thousands of flavor combinations. It is therefore apparent that these flavors are an option for a pleasurable taste that not only clenches smokers, but equally helps them to stop smoking more harmful cigarettes.
These flavors are however under siege by the United Sates Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has nevertheless revealed that the taste of the new flavors are too enticing to minors and has resulted in an over-increasing use of tobacco products as well as nicotine addiction rates among teens.
The marketing manager for the Utah Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, Brittany Karzen also expressed serious concerns about the fact that tobacco products are out there, with kids getting access to them. The FDA has nonetheless revealed that it is taking steps to regulate the vaping industry before the epidemic eats deep into communities.
It is however worthy to note that tobacco companies had been restricted from advertising, promoting and marketing their products to minors following a 1998 Master Settlement Agreement that resulted from a multistate lawsuit that was filed against cigarette manufacturers. Referring to the state law that prohibits minors of less than 18 years old from buying tobacco products, Karzen urged retailers in Utah to stop selling products to minors.
According to the 2017 Student Health and Risk Prevention survey, an estimated 11 percent of the kids in Utah use e-cigarettes regularly meanwhile up to 20 percent have actually tried it. There are also evidences from research that nicotine is bad for the development of the brain. According to Karzen, nicotine does not only prime the brain for addiction, but it equally predisposes to mental health challenges, thereby making learning more difficult irrespective of whether the nicotine is chewed, smoked or vaped.
Parents are therefore urged to help educate not only their children, but also themselves about the variety of products available to help combat the problem. Parents are also advised to talk to their children about the dangers of consuming nicotine as early as possible. However, the Utah Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program recently launched a website known as thetobaccotalk.org to help parents on how to counsel their children against cigarettes.
It is also evident that nicotine is so addictive and once a kid is hooked, he or she is likely to find extra means to meet that nicotine needs. Therefore, the rising popularity of e-cigarettes, even among teenagers could result in a greater number of kids turning to other traditional tobacco products.
It should be recalled that e-cigarettes emerged around the year the year 2007, thereby making the industry a relatively new one. Nonetheless, many states are gradually passing laws to regulate e-cigarettes amidst growing concerns that a greater number of youth are becoming addicted.