As part of their push against teenage vaping, the FDA recently seized many documents at Juul headquarters
Since April the FDA has been expanding their work to reign in and regulate vaping. This effort surrounds what they claim is an epidemic of youth vaping. FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, has let it be known they care much more about stopping this supposed epidemic than about the health benefits and longevity that vaping could bring millions of adult smokers across the United States.
As such, the FDA has increasingly pressured vape manufacturers to lessen the appeal of their products to teens and young adults, often threatening harsh punishment. This includes requiring many vaping companies to disclose key information about the makeup of their products, as well as their marketing information. But they decided to take things to a whole new level this week when they showed up at Juul Labs headquarters in San Francisco and started looking for additional evidence.
But Why Juul?
Juul has been fully cooperative with the FDA, as according to them they’ve already given the FDA over 50,000 pages of information about their products and marketing. Juul has even been quite proactive where others have waited to be forced. They raised the minimum age to purchase their products from 18 to 21 before committing $30 million to help understand and combat underage usage of vaporizers. Not finished there, they also created ad campaigns aimed at educating parents about how to tell if their child is using a vape, as well as updating their social media policies to refocus on smokers looking to quit.
While it’s been refreshing to see a company take responsibility for themselves so thoroughly and proactively, apparently it hasn’t proven enough for the FDA. This week the administration performed a surprise inspection at Juul headquarters where they seized another thousand pages of documents. Juul is the most popular e-cigarette in the US, holding about 70% of the market. The FDA has clearly put them as A1 on their list of culprits in this supposed epidemic and continues, despite Juul’s complete cooperation and proactive measures, to persecute them.
Evidence On Vaping
E-cigarettes were created to help people quit smoking and reduce harm for smokers who turn to them, and have been scientifically proven to do so. Public Health England, Great Britain’s equivalent of the FDA, published a report that found vaping to be at least 95% safer than smoking. That study has been backed by other scientific findings many times over since it was published in 2015.
For example, the University of Louisville conducted a study looking at the effectiveness of different smoking cessation tools including nicotine gums, patches, and prescription drugs like Chantix. Ultimately they found that vaporizers are the most effective tool on the market to help people quit, and stay off of, cigarettes. While all of this science backs up vaping’s validity, the general populous still has an awful perception of it. Some polls even find that over a quarter of the population falsely believes vaping is just as, or more dangerous than, smoking combustible cigarettes. This negative reputation can largely be attributed to the FDA’s treatment of vaping.
Furthermore, the epidemic, as Gottlieb has repeatedly referred to it, may not be as drastic as they make it out to be. Across the entire country only a couple million youth (14-24-year-olds) vape. Studies have shown that only 0.1-0.5% of these vaping teens were not smokers before they began. That means these teens are likely utilizing vaping for its intended purpose, to help them quit or reduce harm from smoking. Naturally, that means even fewer of that 0.1-0.5% go on to take up smoking traditional cigarettes.
We have to seriously ask ourselves as a society what we value. While it’s obvious that protecting the youth from decisions they cannot fully grasp is of the utmost importance, we must keep in mind what else is at stake. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease across the world, with very few being able to say their lives haven’t been affected by tobacco use. Should we be undermining the effectiveness of a tool that has proven itself as an elite smoking cessation and harm reduction tool? Especially in the name of an epidemic that amounts to little more than a very tiny percentage of non-smoking teens starting to vape. I believe that if we truly want to rid the world of the smoking epidemic once and for all, it’s vital that we take advantage of all the best tools we currently have at our disposal, including vaping.
Should Juul be unfairly targeted just because they’re the most well known vaping company? Do you think Juul is doing enough to protect the youth? How can we best protect teens without limiting vaping rights? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.