Last month, the FDA released the much anticipated guidance pertaining to flavoured vaping products. “Companies that do not cease manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes (other than tobacco or menthol) within 30 days risk FDA enforcement actions,” read the opening sentence.
The ban is applicable to cartridges and nicotine pods with flavours other than tobacco and menthol, and to products aimed at minors. E-liquids are not included in the ban, which has left anti-vaping advocates enraged, saying that this will only lead to youth switching products. While on the other end of the spectrum, the vaping industry keeps pointing out that flavour bans are not the answer, since the devices are used by smokers seeking to quit.
Did Ontario just strike the right balance?
Meanwhile, new regulations set forth in Ontario Canada, will allow adult-only vape shops, to sell all the flavoured products available on the market, as well as products containing a higher nicotine content, while banning convenience shops and gas stations from selling any flavours aside from tobacco and menthol, and at a nicotine limit of 20 milligrams a milliliter.
This measure, which is in line with a similar proposal suggested for another Canadian province, British Columbia, will likely be considered by many harm reduction experts as one that strikes the right balance between protecting the province’s teens, whilst keeping the full range of products available for adults smokers wishing to quit.
Individual US states set their own flavour bans
Meanwhile, a number of individual US states have been setting in place their own versions of flavour bans. A New Jersey bill proposing a ban on the sale of flavoured vaping products, has been passed in both the Senate and State Assembly. Similarly Californian lawmakers have introduced a bill which would ban all flavours including menthol.
On the other hand, in New York, a Supreme Court judge has issued an injunction against governor Cuomo’s flavour ban attempt. While the Michigan Supreme Court has denied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request, to remove a lower court’s block on her ban on flavoured vaping products.
Teens try e-cigs mostly out of curiosity
On the other hand, data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have indicated that that all the flavour bans being set in place, may ultimately do little to decrease teen vaping rates, as they are mostly driven by curiosity not flavours.
“Among students who reported ever having tried e-cigarettes, the three most common reasons for use were “I was curious about them” (55.3%), “friend or family member used them” (30.8%), and “they are available in flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate” (22.4%). Among students who never used e-cigarettes, 39.1% were curious about using e-cigarettes and 37.0% were curious about smoking cigarettes,” said the CDC report.