For several months, the Trump administration considered completely banning e-cigarettes using a flavored liquid. As of January 2020, a new policy has been put in place that will have an effect on some of the flavored vapes that are being sold.
The FDA is responsible for the changes that are being made according to the policy regulations (1). They say the changes are being made to try and limit the popularity of using e-cigarettes, especially by America’s teenagers. According to research and several studies, these vapers still in their teens prefer using a vape that has been flavored. The new regulations are an attempt to lower the number of these teen vapers, balancing adults who currently smoke who could potentially benefit from vaping products over conventional cigarettes with tobacco.
These smokers may be able to quit smoking cigarettes for good through the use of vaping products such as e-cigarettes. According to regulations, cigarettes made with tobacco and other additives are far more harmful than e-cigarettes. That being said, there is an alarming amount of evidence demonstrating these same vaping products that could be beneficial for helping adult smokers are luring millions of teens into the addiction of nicotine, leading many of them to turn to cigarettes themselves, defeating the overall purpose.
Also, on December 20, the President signed a law into effect requiring people to be older to purchase products with tobacco. This includes but is not limited to vape products that are made with nicotine. The new law raises the age to 21, instead of being able to purchase these products at the age of 18.
As this article continues, we will be discussing this new policy from the FDA and take a look at some of the evidence regarding e-cigs and vaping products being a better choice than cigarettes that are made with tobacco. Just to be clear, writing this article doesn’t signify this website agreeing or disagreeing with the new regulations. We simply wish to provide you with the information you need to ensure you are not breaking the law. This is an attempt to deliver facts, not our personal opinion.
The new policy on vaping
Considering the law around vaping, nothing has been changed with this new policy. According to the FDA, any vape, being considered a newer tobacco product, requires authorization from the FDA to be considered as legal on the market. However, in regards to practice, production is prohibited by the new regulations, as well as the sale and distribution of e-cigarette cartridges that have been flavored, except these products with menthol and tobacco flavoring, as of February 6, 2020.
Since then, manufacturers are forced to show a cartridge with flavors that are unauthorized have been determined as appropriate for the protection of the health of the public. They also need to have received the authorization of the FDA. Individuals who use vape products will not be penalized.
These vape pods and cartridges are a unit that has been enclosed and containing e-liquid. When these liquids are heated, it becomes a vapor for the user to inhale. With teens specifically, these products have grown in popularity over the past few years. These products are discrete, easy to hide and look similar to a USB stick you would plug into a computer.
If the vaping device you use is what’s known as a “tank” style, this new policy does not apply to you. These models operate with e-liquids that are refillable. They are typically much larger in size and can be customized at vaping shops intended for adults only.
Also, the FDA says companies that manufacture e-cigarettes may have action taken against them if they are not being strict in regards to keeping their products out of the hands of teens, if minors are marketed their products, regardless of if the products are used through a cartridge.
The new changes to the policy are being driven by research and data that indicates teens in the United States are becoming attracted to vaping products more and more regularly. A 2019 survey determined over five million students in both middle and high school are currently using e-cigarettes.
Is this a ban?
The new policy is not being considered a ban by the FDA. There was a press release explaining they are open to the authorization e-cigarette cartridges that have been flavored in the future if standards set through the premarket authorization have been met by the product. Companies will have to demonstrate their e-cigarettes are not being glamorized to teens or individuals who are not already addicted to nicotine through smoking cigarettes. According to the press release, the FDA has already begun reviewing many applications for e-cigarettes cartridges that are flavored.
Still, many are skeptical of a flavor other than tobacco or menthol receiving the FDA’s authorization. Because this prohibition only applies to a subset of vape products that have flavoring, many see it being inappropriate to consider the new policy or regulations a ban.
Are any other vaping products considered legal?
To be technical, every vape product was illegally sold on the market, including products that have not been singled out by the FDA in this new policy. For a vaping product to be legal, they need to be given premarket authorization. As of January 15 of 2020, there were no e-cigarettes to be given such authorization. Nevertheless, stores and companies were permitted to sell an e-cigarette product to any customer who was over legal age simply because the FDA had made the decision against enforcing the requirement of the authorization. That being said, that was the decision before the new regulations.
The FDA is referring to the policy as a document for “guidance.” The industry has been notified the FDA will prioritize enforcing actions only against specific products. These products have gotten the FDA’s attention for going out of their way to target a younger audience. Instead of marketing the products as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, the products were marketed in a way that made them attractive to younger people who were not already smoking.
In 2016, the FDA was first granted the authorization to regulate e-cigarette products. At that time, the agency requested e-cigarette product manufacturers to send in an application for premarket authorization within 24 months. A company was allowed to keep selling their vape products up to a year following the application being submitted. This would allow the agency ample time for reviewing the applications. As time went on, there was a shift with the application’s deadline, first being extended until 2022, then being shifted again back to 2021. Back in July of 2019, a court decided May 12 of 2020 would be a submissions final date.
Instead of waiting for the conclusion of that process, the FDA made the decision this new policy would get rid of these flavored products temporarily they believed to be attracting children the most.
How is a menthol-flavored pod still legal?
Based on the results of the study and surveys from 2019, it was determined menthol was a very unpopular flavor among middle and high school students who were using e-cigarettes. After they had initially proposed a policy that was menthol-inclusive, the FDA went against the original decision. When students ranging from 6th through 12th grade were asked, fewer than seven percent said menthol was their preferred flavor of e-cigarette products.
There have been plenty of other surveys and studies completed that will group menthol and mint flavors together. However, the category of the two being combined is gaining in popularity as time goes on. There were several advocates of public health displaying disappointment the flavors being targeted didn’t include menthol. They believe teens will more than likely simply turn to a menthol pod over mint, instead of no longer using e-cigarettes. While many are able to claim there is simply no data proving teen users will make the switch from mint to menthol, There’s plenty of room for concern.
Are e-cigarettes healthier than smoking cigarettes with tobacco?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no issue with declaring the fact that e-cigarettes are not as dangerous as a combustible cigarette made with tobacco. However, they want to be very clear. This in no way is a statement saying there’s no harm with smoking e-cigarettes or vaping products. When it comes to teens, no, e-cigarettes are not safe. Women who are pregnant or adults who are not currently addicted to nicotine from smoking tobacco products are also advised against using e-cigarettes, according to the CDC.
The fact that they are burned is one of the primary reasons why cigarettes are so dangerous to a person’s health. There are around 7,000 toxins found in smoke from cigarettes, ultimately caused by the combustion. Lung cancer is not the only reason for concern, Also, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and several other illnesses are caused by smoking combustible cigarettes.
The same simply can not be said of vaping products and e-cigarette. This is because e-liquids or juices are not burned. They are heated. There are a few additional chemicals generated with heating the liquid, but not nearly as many as burning a cigarette. When compared to smoking a traditional cigarette, a person is exposed to a significantly lower number of toxic substances then using a vaping product or e-cigarette, according to study and research completed in 2018 by the National Academy of Sciences.
Because of this, many experts with public health consider these products far less harmful than traditional cigarettes. That being said, there is still plenty of research and study needed in regards to the vapor of e-cigarettes.