Banning E-Cig Flavors
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
The use of E-cigarettes is becoming very popular among teenagers. A majority of these adolescents start smoking actual cigarettes after using electronic ones within a few months. E-cigarettes are intended to be less harmful than actual cigarettes for adult users, but an unintended audience of teenagers are being exposed to them. 70% of teenagers have been projected to E-cigarette advertising. Furthermore, The use of E-Cigarettes has grown 78 percent among high school students in the past year. 66% of vaping teenagers use E-cigarettes that comes in flavors such as tobacco, candy, fruit, menthol, or alcohol. These flavors appeal more to teenagers than standard cigarettes do, which is why policymakers are attempting to lower the number of youths smoking by enforcing a ban on E-cigarette flavors. Scott Gottlieb said the data shows an “epidemic of E-cigarette use among teenagers.”
The Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, is proposing a ban on a majority of flavored electronic cigarettes in gas stations and retail stores. About 56.3% of teenagers are exposed to E-cigarettes in these locations. However, the proposal is not including tobacco, menthol, mint, or non-flavored products in the ban. These flavors have intentionally been excluded from the ban to specifically target the youth by eliminating popular teen flavors such as candy and fruit, while still keeping the E-cigarette flavors that are prevalent among adults. The FDA also commented that they kept menthol and tobacco flavors in order to prevent teenagers from switching to actual menthol-tobacco cigarettes in their overall effort to reduce teenage vaping.
This ban actually benefits a majority of cigarette companies in Big Tobacco as a large proportion of their sales come from flavors that are not being banned. On the other hand, this ban will prove to be unfavorable for the tobacco company Juul, which dominates 70% of the E-cigarette market. They amass most of their fortune from sales of flavors like mango, cucumber, and creme. The FDA has given Juul along with four others of the largest electronic cigarette manufacturing companies—Vuse, Blu, MarkTenn XL, and Logic—60 days to implement the ban.
Although this ban is going to negatively influence them, Juul has already started to remove their flavors from stores, in compliance with the policy to reduce vaping among minors. They have actually done more than what the FDA asked for and have removed flavored E-cigarettes from vape shops as well which was not required of them. Juul has also removed their social media pages to limit the promotion of vaping devices. Now, these cigarettes can only be bought from their age-restricted websites.
Since many people, including tobacco companies themselves, have supported the ultimate goal of a reduction in underage vaping, there has not been much opposition to this policy. Nonetheless, some believe that more people will start using menthol flavored E-cigarettes. They voiced that the FDA should stop the sales of all flavored cigarettes—not just the ones popular among minors—in an effort to reduce the nation’s leading cause of preventable death among adults as well.
The FDA is continuing their efforts to decrease cigarette-related deaths by claiming that they will try to cut nicotine levels in regular cigarettes, but some companies are challenging the agency’s right to do that. Moreover, the FDA will also require a stricter age verification manner online. They are striving to effectively end all sales of E-cigarettes to the youth as soon as possible.