With a firm understanding that smoking nicotine cigarettes is terrible for one’s health, many people have been turning to e-cigarettes instead as a healthier alternative. The jury is still out on whether or not vaping is actually healthier than smoking cigarettes, and recent studies seem to be divided on the topic, with many drawing the conclusion that it’s worse than cigarettes.
Given the uncertainty of the subject matter, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now trying to prevent as many people as possible from having access to e-cigarettes by putting new and tighter restrictions in place, according to NBC News.
Outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released the new restrictions on Wednesday, in the hopes that many of the “fruity flavors” that have drawn teens to the habit in droves will eventually be removed from the market completely.
“Evidence shows that youth are especially attracted to flavored e-cigarette products, and that minors are able to access these products from both brick-and-mortar retailers, as well as online, despite federal restrictions on sales to anyone under 18,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
“Under the new policy announced today, we’re putting all manufacturers and retailers on notice.”
Those restrictions will be resulting in much harsher penalties for any retailers caught selling to unauthorized persons, i.e. teenagers under the age of 18.
With just 30 days on the deadline for public comment and the moving up of the deadline for premarket applications, the agency will have to speed up their review of these products. This could potentially mean that certain e-cigarettes and their products will be pulled from the market completely, depending on those results.
The proposal, which is now open for public comment for 30 days, outlines new restrictions for most flavored e-cigarettes, speeds the agency’s deadline to review flavored nicotine products and allows it to pull e-cigarettes from the market. https://t.co/9DNEBwvtQq— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 14, 2019
It’s a complete change of heart for the FDA, who previously indicated they weren’t going to regulate e-cigarettes.
However, it’s worth noting that the restrictions being put in place now are only in an attempt to stop teens from becoming addicted to the habit, rather than to make it an illegal practice altogether. The products under fire are ones that the FDA has determined are enticing to the youth, and as such is looking at getting rid of the flavored pods that the age group is so partial to.
Products that are being packaged to target the youth are also being pulled from the market.
Flavors that are believed to be helping adults kick their cigarette habit in favor of vaping are safe so far, including menthol, mint, and tobacco.
This new action comes just months after Gottlieb warned in September that companies manufacturing e-cigarettes and the flavors to go with it would have to do something about the near epidemic levels of teenagers who had taken up vaping as a result of their products.
Shortly after issuing that warning, Gottlieb quoted the statistics related to vaping among the youth.
“The most recent data show more than 3.6 million middle and high school students across the country were current (past 30 days) e-cigarette users in 2018. This is a dramatic increase of 1.5 million children since the previous year. The data also showed that youth who used e-cigarettes also were using them more frequently and they were using flavored e-cigarette products more often than in 2017.”
With his main concern being the youth and their health, Gottlieb wants the FDA to approve or disallow individual flavors on a case by case basis in order to continue offering vaping as a safer alternative to smoking for adults, while still not drawing teens into the craze.