After being grilled by the Lawmakers on a House Appropriations subcommittee about excessive e-cig use amongst adolescents, last April, the FDA said that it would be taking some enforcement steps to this effect.
“We are going to take some vigorous enforcement steps to try to perceive what we see is inappropriate use by youth,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. The FDA chief added that despite the relative safety of the products, the increasing use amongst youths is worrisome. “We can’t just addict a whole generation of young people onto nicotine,” he said.
Vaping businesses need to prove they are fighting teen vaping
In the letters, the agency is demanding that within 60 days, these companies present proof that they can keep the nicotine-containing products out of the hands of minors. Should they fail to do so, the FDA may ban candy-like flavors, such as bubble gum and crème brûlée, that may be particularly appealing to this age group.
Banning flavours could have a detrimental effect on adult smoking rates
However, studies keep indicating that restricting e-liquid flavours may discourage adult smokers from switching to the proven safer alternatives that could save their life. A recent study conducted by the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) looked at data gathered from over 20,000 adult frequent vapers in the United States.
The researchers found that the majority of regular e-cigarette users, had transitioned directly from smoking cigarettes to vaping non-tobacco flavours, and to switching from tobacco to non-tobacco flavours over time.
“The results show that non-tobacco flavours, especially fruit based flavours, are being increasingly preferred to tobacco flavours by adult vapers who have completely switched from combustible cigarettes to vapour products,” said Dr Christopher Russell, Deputy Director of CSUR, who led the research.
Most US adult vapers prefer fruity flavours
In line with the above data, a 2017 study from Yale School of Public Health and the Centre for Health Policy at the Imperial College in London, had indicated that if flavours had to be banned in e-cigarettes many former smokers would revert back to smoking. “Our results are timely and policy-relevant, suggesting which flavor bans are likely to be most effective in protecting public health,” said the researchers at the time.
Gottlieb seems to be aware that banning flavours to protect kids would negatively affect adult vapers. “Inevitably what we are going to have to contemplate are actions that may narrow the off-ramp for adults who see e-cigarettes as a viable alternative to combustible tobacco in order to close the on ramp for kids,” he said, “It’s an unfortunate trade-off.”
Read Further: Futurism