After partially recognizing the potential health benefits of vaping, health authorities are now back-pedalling in the USA. While the administration recognizes the limited health risks compared to smoking tobacco, the popularity of vaping among minors is a worrying trend. The FDA is particularly interested in this new consumption method, in particular with regards to flavoured e-liquids.
Between 2017 and 2018, vaping rates in the USA rose a whopping 78% in high-schools and 48% in middle-schools. This adds up to 3.6 million American minors who vape on a regular basis. This number has been climbing steadily for years.
To put a stop to this abuse in underage populations, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is taking action. They have just launched a project to better enforce the ban on online sales of e-cigs to minors. Access to vaping products will be highly regulated in minor populations, given the restriction is already in force in brick & mortar shops. This project will be subject to a public consultation before being adopted.
The FDA is not letting go
For a number of years now, the FDA has been focused on reducing vaping rates among minors. The health authority has been vocal for years regarding the potential of vaping as a gateway drug to tobacco smoking. Despite the various restrictions on under-age purchase, access to vaping products via online sales means minors can buy them easily. Scott Gottlieb, head of the FDA, wants to block this online access.
The FDA does not believe that e-cigarettes steer individuals away from cigarettes, but rather “prepare” them for smoking. Gottlieb has referred to the vaping revolution as “an epidemic”. Distributors of e-cig gear are limited in their advertising spaces, as we can see with Juul who had to remove all advertising from social media.
We know that vaping will always have detractors, but it appears to be the main focus of the FDA. And yet, no studies have proven that e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction and as a result drive people to smoking.