The FDA announced that Commissioner Gottlieb would be meeting with the executives at several vaping companies about their promise to fight teenage vaping
As we turn over into a new year, concerns over vaping remain at an all-time high. People have been debating the efficacy of vaping ever since they first hit the market, but things have begun to reach a head over the last year. Those in favor of vaping point to the peer-reviewed evidence proving e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking, while anti-vapers raise concerns over the impact legitimization has on the youth. Both sides have been making their case for a while now, but several signs point to 2019 being a make or break year for the vaping industry.
One of the most significant factors in this ongoing debate is what vaping is doing to teens. It’s important we aren’t unwittingly training a new generation of smokers, but many are worried that public health officials may be going over the top and focusing on the wrong factors. Regardless, the FDA is continuing their push against vaping, as FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently announced he’d be personally meeting with the leaders of several prominent vaping companies to discuss plans to fight teenage vaping.
The Latest Announcement
Late last week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they’d be meeting with the executives from several e-cigarette makers as part of their push to limit youth access to vaping. This announcement was followed by several tweets claiming some of these companies have already shown signs of backing out of their agreements to work on limiting teen vaping. Two of the companies in question are Juul Labs and Tobacco Giant Altria, who have both said on the record they support this new push to limit e-cigarette use among teens. It’s unclear what the new meetings will mean for the industry, but the announcement comes on the heels of a rare public statement from the Surgeon General calling teenage vaping an “epidemic.”
Current US Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, issued a scathing rebuttal of e-cigarettes last week. In it, he pointed to some of the known risks of nicotine, as well as using more misleading information, such as that one Juul Pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. However, he failed to point out one Juul Pod lasts for at least as long as a pack of cigarettes, meaning they effectively contain the same amount of nicotine. Making his apparent comfort with misleading information all the worse is Dr. Gottlieb’s recent statement during a radio interview, ‘Would you give a recovering alcoholic a whiskey-flavored drink? No. So we don’t want to leave smokers with only tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.” The fact of the matter is this is precisely what the FDA is doing to vapers with their recent push to ban flavors.
What’s At Stake
As mentioned, the most significant factor cited by many public health officials is the impact vaping is having on the younger generation. Luckily, when you take a look at the peer-reviewed evidence on the topic, some important patterns start to emerge. A large-scale poll of over 60,000 students concluded that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever ending up full-blown vapers. This means that even fewer are ever becoming smokers because of e-cigarettes. These figures make it clear concerns have been overblown, and the real benefits are being squandered as a result.
We have plenty of evidence for the extreme harm reduction value of vaporizers that’s been building for the last several years. We’ve known since back in 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. This report conducted by Public Health England has been since supported by many other studies, including one just a few weeks back that found vaping contains 93% fewer toxicants than smoking. But even more impressive than these figures is the report published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a comparable vaper. Making all of these findings all the more important is evidence which supports the idea vaping is the best smoking cessation tool at our disposal.
2019 is gearing up to be an incredibly important year for the future of the vaping industry. Many experts see several factors coming together to create a make or break situation for the community. We’ve already witnessed the FDA begin to severely clamp down on vaping with their newest flavor bans and increasingly hostile rhetoric. The bottom line is that vaping is facing a fight for continued survival, and there’s a ton at stake for public health. Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the world, so anything which could potentially put a massive dent into Big Tobacco is worth exploring. Especially given the growing pile of evidence, we must work to support the vaping industry, or all the smokers who have successfully ended their dependence on tobacco may soon be drawn back into a life of smoking.
Do the latest moves by the FDA worry you? How should we be working together to support the vaping industry? What’s the biggest problem still facing the vaping community? 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.