The FDA is once again proving they care more about stopping vaping than the actual research
The general public’s perception of vaping has been proven poor time and time again. When polled only around 13% of adults correctly answer that vaping is safer than smoking. A lot of the poor public perception can be traced back to the media’s negative coverage. Another significant factor is the treatment of the topic by the government. For example, public perception of e-cigarettes has been consistently improving in Great Britain, where the government has researched and accepted vaporizers as smoking cessation and harm reduction tools. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said in the US.
Over the past year, the FDA has taken significant steps to address what they have continually referred to as a vaping “epidemic.” The FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, has made it clear that stopping teens from vaping is a top priority of his. Subsequently, the FDA has cracked down on vaping regulations; flatly labeling them as tobacco products, making policy changes, conducting stings, and requiring manufacturers to change their packaging. Gottlieb has repeatedly threatened the vaping industry with the possibility of a flavor ban. But their latest move changed the requirements for FDA product approval without any evidence to back them up.
Most of the restrictions and changes made have a stated focus of saving the children. Gottlieb has openly said that he does not care about the benefit that e-cigarettes have to offer the 37.8 million adult smokers in America, so long as he can stop teens from getting ahold of them. But Gottlieb recently took things to a whole new level when he announced a new addition to their campaigns against teen tobacco use. These ads target teen vaping, but that’s not why the vaping community is up in arms. The FDA has stated that they have made these changes based on “very clear science,” but they have chosen to delay making this data available despite the significant changes.
It was just last month when the FDA launched their latest anti-vaping campaign, which they have described as “irreverent.” The message of the ads is that e-cigarettes deliver toxins into your system that could have unexpected effects, without acknowledging their reduced harm compared with smoking. They even claim that teens using e-cigarettes will eventually use combustible cigarettes. Gottlieb says the data shows a “significant increase” in youth usage to justify their misleading information. During a recent CNBC interview, Gottlieb said we could expect to see the relevant data soon, but many are skeptical we ever will.
While the FDA has decided to hold off on publishing their data, there is a great deal of published, peer-reviewed, and widely recognized work available that shows vaping’s real value to society. Public Health England, Great Britain’s equivalent to the FDA, published a study in 2015 that found e-cigarettes to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes. Other research has found that the excess lifetime cancer risk of developing cancer beyond genetic disposition, for a vaper is 57,000 times lower than that of a comparable smoker.
Speaking to Gottlieb’s concerns, but doing him no favors, research has found that only between 0.1%-0.5% of non-smoking teens ever take up vaping. The amount that then turns to smoke traditional cigarettes is even smaller. This means that the vast majority of teen vapers, as with adult vapers, are former cigarette smokers, taking advantage of e-cigarettes harm reduction and smoking cessation value to improve their life.
The fact the FDA is making changes without sharing data or citing sources is uncomfortable. It should make you uncomfortable that such an agency would ask you to blindly trust them to make decisions for public well being when so much of the data we have on vaping says they are wrong. The FDA, as with all regulators, needs to be held accountable for their decisions. The vaping community and vaping manufacturers have been very open with the FDA, and have been trying to work with an administration that would rather vilify them than work towards a better healthier option for the people they aim to protect. It is important that people let them know that making changes without sharing their data is not acceptable, and is not something that should ever be repeated.
Do you think it’s okay to force vapers into smoking only areas? Do you think this would make it more likely you relapse into smoking? How can we improve the public perception of vaping? 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.