The Food and Drug Administration has spent the past few years trying to develop new regulations for tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Apparently, it isn’t acting fast enough for some public health organizations, as several organizations are now taking the FDA to court over the delayed implementation of new e-cig rules. While these groups may have benevolent intentions, they are relying on fear and misinformation to paint an inaccurate portrayal of the vaping industry.
FDA Deadline Pushed to 2022
Most e-cig products will soon be subject to federal oversight. Tobacco products, like cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, will also be subject to government analysis to ensure that brands adhere to new limits on nicotine content. E-cigarette and e-juice manufacturers were initially required to submit all product review applications by August of this year, but the FDA has now extended the deadline for 4 more years, pushing it to August 2022. The decision came largely in part because of the efforts of vapers, e-cig makers, vape shop owners and tobacco harm reduction advocates who argued that enforcing the strict deadline would essentially kill the vaping industry and potentially push more people back into combustable tobacco products.
Although many American health care professionals originally took a tough stance on vaping, public sentiment has changed as more research has become available. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has even expressed his desire for “a world where less harmful alternative forms [of tobacco], efficiently delivering satisfying levels of nicotine, are available for those adults who need or want them.” Thus, the government has decided to heavily regulate the vaping industry rather than destroy it.
Related: Understanding the FDA’s PMTAs
Public Health Groups Push Back
Shortly after the FDA’s announcement to delay product review applications, six advocacy groups filed suit against the administration in a Maryland court. By failing to solicit public comments regarding the delay, the plaintiffs argue that the FDA violated both the 2009 Tobacco Control Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. Furthermore, they accuse the administration of endangering the public by leaving most e-cigs on the market for now.
The plaintiffs currently include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Truth Initiative. Some individual pediatricians have also signed on to the case.
Related: American Cancer Society Reverses Stance on Vaping
JUUL’s Popularity Among Youth Gives the E-Cig Industry a Bad Rep
The lawsuit specifically focuses on the issue of flavored e-juices. Citing media reports about JUUL, an e-cig brand that has become popular among teenagers, the plaintiffs claim that e-liquid flavors entice young people to take up vaping. Ironically, JUUL’s website explicitly states that their products are not for teens or non-smokers.
According to JUUL’s spokesperson Christine Castro, “The entire conception, premise, operations and mission of the company is to eliminate cigarettes and get adult smokers to switch to our vapor product.” JUUL packages also come with a warning label indicating that the product could increase users’ risks for cancer and birth defects. The company even conducts research on youth prevention, distributes educational materials and funds addiction counselors for schools. Still, some health care professionals aren’t satisfied.
“I don’t think any tobacco or nicotine delivery device company should be doing their own prevention work,” developmental psychologist Bonnie Halpern-Felsher told the Washington Post. “The idea that tobacco industries, including cigarettes or JUULs, are putting flavors in or having flavors because they want to promote this to adults is ridiculous,”
Fortunately, vaping critics like Dr. Halpern-Felsher represent a shrinking portion of the medical community. While the benefits and risks of e-cigs are still under investigation, the dangers of smoking are well documented. Many health professionals now concur that vaping is preferable to smoking, but there is still some concern over certain chemicals that are used in lower quality e-liquids. Therefore, the government should probably research and regulate vapor products; however, if all e-cigs were to suddenly disappear, many ex-smokers would likely fall back into tobacco addiction.
Related: E-Cig Vapor vs. Tobacco Smoke: Which Is More Harmful?
Vaping is for Responsible Adults
At White Cloud, we agree that young people shouldn’t have access to vape products, which is why we’ve set up a thorough age verification process for all online purchases. Adults, on the other hand, have a right to make their own decisions.
While we await the upcoming legal battle, White Cloud will continue offering a variety of e-liquids and nicotine levels for responsible vapers who want an alternative to tobacco.