FDA set to crack down on flavours

The Food and Drug Administration is set to launch a new set of restrictions on vaping next week, following widespread hysteria about the “teen vaping epidemic” whipped up by the media and anti-harm reduction campaigners. While teen vaping is actually relatively rare, and mostly confined to teens who already smoked, the perception is that millions of new young nicotine addicts are being created – and the FDA plans to use this to severely restrict the availability of vapour products.

According to FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the agency fears that one form of nicotine – cigarettes – is simply being replaced by another. Gottlieb said, “The bottom line is that we are creating a whole pool of kids addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes, some proportion of them are going to become longer term users of combustible tobacco that otherwise might never have initiated on tobacco.” Of course the “gateway” from vaping to smoking has been repeatedly discredited, but it still features regularly in the debate.

Now Gottlieb plans to close the non-existent gateway by banning sales of most flavours in convenience stores and filling stations, and enforcing tougher age verification for online sales. The new rules are expected to be released in the next few days.

UKVIA calls for end to Dundee vape ban

The United Kingdom Vaping Industry Association has called on Scotland’s health secretary to take a stand in a dispute about a local council’s vaping ban. Since last week, council employees in Dundee have been forbidden to vape during working hours; unions and vaping advocates were strongly opposed to the move, but the Scottish National Party-dominated council pushed ahead anyway.

Now UKVIA want health secretary Jeane Freeman to intervene, pointing out that the ban contravenes the Scottish parliament’s own anti-smoking policy. Scotland’s Tobacco Control Plan says that vapour products are “definitely less harmful than smoking cigarettes” and recognises their role in helping smokers quit. In fact the rest of the Plan is failing miserably, with the number of smokers using NHS quit services now in its sixth year of decline. Meanwhile smoking in Scotland is at another record low, with e-cigarettes now the most common quit method by a wide margin.

Oil rigs and workplace vaping banned by Florida vote

Following Tuesday’s vote on proposed amendments to the state constitution it’s now illegal to drill for oil in Florida’s coastal waters or vape in a workplace or many other public places. The two unrelated prohibitions were controversially bundled together as Amendment 9, which caused confusion among many voters – but, unfortunately, that confusion didn’t stop it passing the 60% mark it needed to be approved.

The main impact of Amendment 9 on vapers is that e-cigarettes will be added to Florida’s existing indoor smoking ban, making it illegal to vape anywhere you can’t smoke. This will affect bars and restaurants as well as offices and indoor public spaces.

Thailand stands firm on vape fines

The Thai government has reiterated its strict anti-vaping policies following complaints by foreign diplomats. A senior official said on Thursday that the laws were being enforced because of concerns raised by the Public Health Ministry, in a clear sign that there are no plans to re-evaluate them following recent negative publicity.

It’s been reported that several foreign embassies have protested to the Thai government about their citizens being fined for bringing vapour products into the country. Instead of listening to these concerns Bangkok is sticking to its guns and warning tourists that they’ll be fined if they try to use reduced-harm products in Thailand.

US smoking rate hits historic low

The percentage of US adults who smoke is now at the lowest level since records began, with just 14% using cigarettes regularly. However, leading researchers are warning that inappropriate laws on vaping are putting this progress at risk.

According to the American Council on Science and Health, not only has the role of vaping in bringing down the smoking rate been skipped by the media and decision makers; the record low itself has been almost overlooked. The ACSH cite a recent Washington Post story which saved the good news until paragraph 18 and focused instead on teenage vaping.