FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently gave his plan to ban vaping flavors to the White House, a final step before it can be implemented.
Few people have had such an interesting relationship with vaping as Dr. Scott Gottlieb, current FDA Commissioner. When he took office, one of the first things he did was delay the controversial deeming rule until 2022. That move was a massive win for the entire vaping industry and gave plenty of people hope Dr. Gottlieb would prove to be a progressive voice in the vaping debate. However, over the last couple of years concern has skyrocketed over a so-called teenage vaping epidemic, and the FDA led by Dr. Gottlieb has made an e-liquid flavor ban one of their primary goals. While at first, it was merely a threat, it seems that it will soon become a reality as the Commissioner recently handed over his full proposal for the ban to the White House, a final step in the process.
Dr. Gottlieb had warned several times over the last year that if teenage vaping rates didn’t improve to his liking, then a flavor ban would be the next step. Unfortunately, this arbitrary standard was seemingly not met and now millions of vapers, not to mention the industry itself, is in danger of severe consequences. Some experts even say such a move is only likely to make things worse in the long run, not improve anything. Regardless, it seems the vaping industry in America may soon be faced with an existential crisis.
The Final Stages
It was late last week when FDA Commissioner personally handed in their plan to ban the sale of flavored e-liquids in most stores across the country; a move experts say effectively bans their sale for many. He met with senior White House officials from the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council. The proposal would ban the sale of all flavored e-liquids except tobacco, menthol, or mint in most retail stores which currently carry them, such as convenience stores. Technically these stores could still sell them if they conform to a strict policy of IDing customers as they walk in. As such, the only stores likely to carry flavored e-liquids after the ban is passed will be adult only stores which already adhere to similar policies. Unfortunately, these places are much less common, and the result would be millions of vapers without a reliable way to get their supplies in person.
The plan was first announced as a distinct possibility back in November with Dr. Gottlieb and the FDA working for the last several months to write the guidelines and have them cleared by the Department of Health and Human Services. What’s worse is Dr. Gottlieb even foreshadowed further regulation down the line, but didn’t elaborate on what he had in mind. When asked about their official policy on the FDA’s proposal the White House only responded to say they didn’t have any announcements at this time. But when and if they get the approval from the White House, the FDA would be able to start the ban almost immediately.
Research On Vaping
The Commissioners plan is said to reign in teenage vaping significantly, but some researchers suggest it will ultimately give a helping hand to Big Tobacco, as vapers return to their former habit. Not only that but if e-liquid flavors were left alone and menthol cigarettes were instead banned, it could decrease tobacco sales by 10%. Looking further into the independent research on vaping and you find plenty more reason to support vaping. A report conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville tested the success rate of all the most common smoking cessation tools and methods. They concluded that not only is vaping effective at helping people off cigarettes, but it’s actually the most likely aid to lead to success. More importantly, a report of over 60,000 teens found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer more than once or twice, clearly showing the true nature of the teenage vaping “epidemic.”
The harm reduction value of vaping is even more evident. Public Health England first reported back in 2015 vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, but it was far from the last time someone reached similar conclusions. In fact, just last December a team of researchers found that e-liquid vapor contains around 93% less toxicants than cigarette smoke. But perhaps most importantly is the report published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is about 57,000 times lower than a smoker from a similar background.
It’s clear that 2019 truly is a make or break year for the vaping industry. With a national flavor ban looking extremely likely, now is the most important time we can fight back. Even if it gets passed and implemented, we simply cannot give up the fight. Getting more people to understand the value of e-cigarettes should be the primary goal of the vaping community. If more smokers understand what vaping has to offer, it will become much harder to keep unpopular regulations like the flavor ban in place.
Are you worried about the potential flavor ban? Do you think it’s fair for the FDA to go after vaping in this way? What’s the best way to teach others about the value of 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.