As part of their recent blitz against teenage vaping, Commissioner Gottlieb has said teenage vaping rates must drop significantly or harsher regulation will follow
In the decade since vaping first became widely popular, there has been a lot of rumor and misinformation. The widespread misunderstanding about the risks and benefits of vaporizers have made them the topic much debate. While the scientific evidence that continues to mount about vaping shows that it is substantially safer than cigarettes, most legislators don’t agree, and it’s adversely affecting how the public perceives vaping. Polls show the vast majority of adults are still under false assumptions, with only 13% of respondents believing vaping is much safer than smoking.
As a result of all of these misperceptions, we are now experiencing widespread regulations that aim to deter teens from vaping at any cost. The FDA has already announced that it would be banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in stores, much to the dismay of vapers around the country. Making matters worse, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb went on CNBC’s Squawk Box earlier this week and stated that if teenage vaping rates don’t drop at “astonishing” speeds, the FDA next move might be to ban vaping outright.
During the appearance, Gottlieb discussed the FDA’s recent “blitz” on teenage vaping. So far this has consisted of several stings on shops, as well as looking into the marketing techniques of various vaping manufacturers, and finally strict new restrictions on flavored e-cigarettes. The most significant of which is the new ban on flavored e-cigarettes in many brick and mortar stores, along with more rigorous restrictions on the sale of flavored liquids online.
Gottlieb even referenced a possible retraction of the Pre-Market Tobacco Application extension, which had given vaping companies until 2022 to get their facilities and policies up to code. He acknowledged they do see the value that e-cigarettes have for adults who are working to quit smoking. However, Gottlieb once again made a clear and direct threat to the vaping industry in spite of this. These latest comments combined with the ramped up regulations on vaping have many worried about the future of the industry in America. The bottom line, according to Gottlieb, is that if their new regulations don’t curb teen usage in a way he deems adequate, he will not hesitate to take vaporizers off of the market altogether.
Concerns Over Vaping
Gottlieb has often spoken about what he calls the “Teen Vaping Epidemic,” and while underage vaping is not something to be promoted, the term epidemic is overblown. In fact, the large-scale evidence we do have on this exact topic seems to indicate most teen vapers had already been smoking. A study conducted by Action on Smoking and Health of over 60,000 students found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of teens who have never smoked ever take up vaping regularly.
While Gottlieb is wringing his hands over these products making their way into the hands of kids, there are nearly 38 million American adults who smoke regularly. Even Gottlieb, with his dramatic take on vaping, can admit that those e-cigarettes are an excellent tool for harm reduction and smoking cessation. Public Health England, Great Britain’s equivalent to the FDA, famously published a study that found vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Another study, published last fall, concluded vapers are 57,000 times less likely to develop cancer than smokers from a similar background.
The FDA is not even attempting to keep a thin veil on the fact that they would disregard millions of smokers who might take up vaping if misperceptions were corrected. Gottlieb continues to play on the fears of parents, making them fear for their children’s safety and making teen vaping a larger issue than it needs to be. If the FDA took a more positive stance on vaping, there is a good chance the media would spread less misleading and hyperbolic information.
While the FDA seems set on their route, for the time being, more research relating to vaping is published every week. The vast majority of this research has found vaping to be a powerful tool for helping smokers quit. With public perception as weak as it is, the only route for the vaping community at this time is to keep spreading the truth until it is finally heard. As more and more studies are conducted, and more long-term information gathered, we must work to change the tide with accurate information. That’s the only way vaping will ever be able to reach its full potential as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool.
Are you worried that the FDA might ban vaping? Do you think that their “blitz” will lower teen vaping rates enough to satisfy the FDA? What’s the best way to spread positive information about vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.