Fruity, minty or sweet tobacco flavors may soon be missing from e-cigarettes if FDA regulations go into effect.
Vaping has increased dramatically in the past two years in part from the flavors that have made it more appealing to teens, and the proposed FDA guidelines hope to limit access to these nicotine products. While some flavors will be outright banned, others will need FDA approval before they can be sold.
The e-cigarette industry claims their products are marketed to adults as a cessation aid to help them quit smoking, yet it is the teens who have embraced the products and setting record sales figures. Approximately 3.6 million teens say they are current e-cigarette users, with 1.5 million teens starting between 2017 and 2018.
One of the most popular devices used by teens is Juul, which has been called the iPhone of vaping devices. Its slim, flat look resembles a USB flash drive that plugs into your computer when charging and is easily hidden from adults. Juul also came under fire for their marketing which used young models who looked like teens. But other e-cigarette companies are equally guilty of making their products attractive to teens.
In the past, the FDA said it wouldn’t review e-cigarette products until at least 2022, long after many were brought to market. But with the surge in teen use, the FDA has changed its mind. According to Dr. Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner who will retire at the end of March, “manufacturers and retailers may be subject to FDA enforcement for selling certain flavored (e-cig) products without authorization.” The agency has given a deadline of August 8, 2021 for applications for approval of flavored products. Expect to see the market flooded with new flavors. Flavored, sweet little cigars will also have sale restrictions and new guidelines forcing these products to go under a similar approval process.
The FDA brought much needed attention to the e-cig epidemic that “is addicting a new generation of kids” to nicotine. But while the steps taken by the FDA may slow the spread of e-cigarette use by teens, they fall short from reversing the skyrocketing teen use which would only come from prohibiting flavors popular among teens. Our kids will still be able to purchase the flavored products that are keeping them addicted in the first place. This should be a matter of public health because it will define the future health of our nation.