News outlets have started to report that the FDA will begin the process of banning flavored e-cigarettes over the coming weeks
Vaping has gone from humble beginnings to one of the most hotly debated topics in just a few short years. Many have wondered what the short and long-term health effects of vaping are, while others question if they’re even helping smokers quit at all. The good news is that over the last decade we have started to answer most of these critical questions surrounding the efficacy of vaping. Unfortunately, public health institutions such as the FDA have continued to pursue strict regulation on e-cigarettes despite the strong evidence for their value. This includes their recent “blitz” on vaping, which saw several questionable justifications and methods.
Many in the vaping community have grown anxious, believing these actions were only signaling more robust regulation to come. Concerns grew when the FDA announced significant changes were coming without mentioning what they had planned, or even how they were justifying it. But according to several reputable news sources, we may soon have an answer to these questions, and it doesn’t look good for the vaping community.
Flavor bans have always been at the forefront of vapers mind’s when thinking about potential regulations. In fact, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has said on the record several times that his personal feeling on vaping is that it’s attracting teens, and many of these students will eventually turn to combustible cigarettes. He has continued to make these claims while refusing to cite the data they’re using, but it now seems his administration is ready to take another step. According to news outlets, over the next few weeks, the FDA will start to implement a ban on flavored e-cigarettes sold in most stores across the country. Another measure they’re discussing which makes a lot more sense is increasing the penalties for online retailers who don’t adequately verify age.
A ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes had also reportedly been considered, but it seems that Big Tobacco was able to use their massive lobbying power to get that removed. It says a lot about the FDA when they’re willing to place extremely harsh restrictions on the vaping industry while leaving the tobacco industry utterly unaccountable for the same issues. The bottom line according to the FDA is that if teenage vaping doesn’t drop enough, they’re more than willing to place even stricter regulations on the vaping industry.
Working In The Wrong Direction
While the FDA evidently believes they’re doing right by the kids with these latest actions, research from around the world indicates that they may be moving in the wrong direction. According to renowned doctor and professor, David Abrams of NYU, we must remain diligent and not overreact and fall victim to unforeseen consequences. Large-scale studies on the topic have been clear. A report conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research took an in-depth look at what would happen if different types of e-cigarette flavor bans were implemented in America. The team interviewed over 2000 vapers regarding their vaping habits, as well as how they felt a flavor ban would affect them personally. After collecting and analyzing all the data, the researchers noticed some clear patterns.
According to the report, a ban on menthol cigarettes would actually decrease the number of smokers, while a ban on only flavored e-cigarettes could actually increase tobacco sales, as many vapers revert back to smoking with their preferred flavor no longer available. We also have research on the so-called teen vaping epidemic that indicates things may be quite overblown. A massive study of over 60,000 students conducted by Action on Smoking and Health concluded that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens will ever pick up vaping, let alone those who would end up smokers because of vaping alone. The FDA should take a good hard look at this type of research before they give Big Tobacco an unintended bump in sales.
The vaping community in America may soon face regulation that is entirely unfair. Flavor bans have always been used as a threat to the vaping industry, but few ever thought that we would seriously be facing one given all the evidence in favor of vaping. We know that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, and vapers have around 57,000 times lower excess lifetime cancer risk than smokers. It’s even been shown many times that vaping is one of, if not the best smoking cessation tools we currently have at our disposal. In the meantime, smoking continues to kill more people every year than anything else that can be easily prevented. If we care about ending the smoking epidemic once and for all, we shouldn’t give in to our initial reactions, but instead, use the pile of peer-reviewed research which indicates vaping is one of the best harm reduction and smoking cessation tools ever created.
Does the threat of a flavor ban worry you? Do you think it makes sense for the FDA to go after vaping flavors now? What’s the best way we can educate more people about the benefits 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.