In a draft of their Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FDA related e-liquid flavors with an interest in vaping among teens
The FDA just recently published a draft of their required Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), and its contents have got many in the vaping community worried. It seems that they are posturing toward a ban on e-liquid flavors on the basis of protecting the youth. Although they did also mention that flavors may be vital to their success as a smoking cessation tool, the overwhelming portion of their statement indicates they see a severe problem with e-liquid flavors as they are currently regulated.
This marks a shift away from the more vaping friendly tone the FDA has taken on since Dr. Scott Gottlieb took over as the commissioner earlier this year. This change has some people worried about the future of not only e-liquid flavors, but e-cigarettes at large. Once seen as an enemy of vaping, the FDA’s reputation in the vaping community was vastly improved after Dr. Gottlieb announced in July that they would be delaying the controversial deeming rule for another five years. But now it seems that the vaping industry is once again at risk from this federal agency.
While it was only a draft of their Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the language very clearly leans toward banning e-liquid flavors. For instance, part of the draft reads, “Evidence shows that flavored tobacco products, especially those that are sweet or are described with terms attractive to kids, appeal to youth and also shows that youth may be more likely to initiate tobacco use with such products.” The biggest problem with that is there is very little reputable evidence that clearly indicates e-liquid flavors lead to higher rates of vaping in teens. In fact, most studies into teen vaping have found that the overwhelming majority of teens who vape were already smokers before they ever touched a vaporizer. If this is the case, then vaping is serving the same harm reduction role as it does for adult smokers, and therefore shouldn’t be suppressed.
Although they do acknowledge that flavors might help adult smokers quit more successfully, the FDA ultimately seems to want to err on the side of caution, preaching that they need to limit their appeal to teens. The one thing that should have vapers feeling relieved though is that they are also asking for public opinion on their ANPRM once it’s finalized. This is our one chance to change the tide, and keep the wide variety of e-liquid flavors from being heavily regulated.
Public Comment Period
It won’t be until the FDA decides on a final Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that it will begin, but there will be a set period in which the public is allowed to submit comments for consideration. If vaping enthusiasts and shop owners respond with enough voice, it’s entirely possible that they will change their stance to one more in line with the facts. It’s arguably the single most significant decision ever made about vaping in America that the public will have any say on. Regardless of the outcome, it’s clear that the FDA’s decision on e-liquid flavors will have a significant impact on the entire vaping industry.
Some shop owners and vaping advocates are even worried that a poor outcome for the future of e-liquid flavors could spell disaster for the entire independently owned vaping industry. Their argument goes that with extremely high barriers to entry, and regulations on all but tobacco flavored e-liquids, big tobacco will have the perfect opportunity to swoop in and steal most of the market share. That’s why the vaping community is counting on a strong public response once the public comment period begins.
We all know just how bad smoking is for your health and the health of those around you. It’s also becoming better agreed on that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. So then why does the FDA continue to insist on hindering vaping at every opportunity? Vaping has been proven to be one of, if not the, best tool we have to get people off cigarettes. Vapers often reference the wide variety of flavors as one of the principal things helping them get off smoking.
While it’s understandable, even commendable, to be concerned with the safety of children, this argument has also been proven to be an oversimplification of a much larger and nuanced problem. But unlike most times when the government decides to take away your freedoms, this time we have a chance to fight back and maybe even change things. That’s why it’s so important that we all take the time to send the FDA a personal comment on their ANPRM once the public comment period begins. Vaping as we know it could be at stake.
Do you think the FDA is going to ban flavored e-liquids? Do you believe flavored e-liquids need to be regulated, and if so, how much? Do you think the FDA will listen to the people if enough vapers respond? Let us know in the comments.