FDA Bans Unique Vaping Devices
Agency Takes Action Against Devices Designed To Deceive
For the past year in the United States, various government agencies have been engaged in a sustained, systemic war against vaping. Despite pressing public health priorities, regulators continue to carry onward with enforcement action.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced it was taking action against a number of companies creating concealed vapor products. These products include items such as vaporizers designed to mimic smartwatches and clothing designed to hide e-cigarettes.
Public health experts have questioned the agency’s timing, noting that there may be more important enforcement priorities amid a global pandemic. Anti-vaping activists have commended the move as a good first step, but state that a complete ban on vapor products would be the only effective way to curb teenage vaping.
The action comes as part of a larger effort by the agency to crackdown on vapor products. In addition to the companies targeted above, the agency also took action against several retailers accused of selling flavored vapor products despite a federal flavor ban.
The United States Food and Drug Administration announced that it had issued warning letters to 10 companies, stating that their products were created and marketed to help facilitate youth vaping. The products targeted by the agency include backpacks and sweatshirts with stealth pockets designed to conceal vaporizers, vaporizers designed to resemble objects such as portable game consoles, as well as vaping liquids that feature the marketing of cartoon characters or flavors that appeal to children.
Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement that companies face additional enforcement action, such as an injunction, seizure, or fines if they don’t stop the manufacture, distribution, and sale of these products. “These warning letters should send a clear message to all tobacco product manufacturers and retailers that the FDA is keeping a close watch on the marketplace,” Zeller stated. “If you’re marketing or selling these products to youth, the FDA will not tolerate it.”
The letters appear to be a part of a larger regulatory crackdown by the FDA. In addition to the 10 companies mentioned above, the agency also issued warning letters to 95 retailers accused of selling flavored vapor products and sent inquiries to an additional 110 companies for information regarding their marketing practices.
At the time of publishing, none of the companies targeted by the agency have commented or issued any kind of statement. Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, commended the agency’s efforts but continues to state that any measure short of a complete ban on vapor products is ineffective policy.
Despite often repeated and overblown claims of youth vaping, research from the NYU School of Global Public Health discovered that most teens don’t actually vape. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens do not vape at all, and the few that vape, do not regularly.
Harm reduction experts and public health scholars alike have warned against prohibition and prohibitive policies targeting vaping. In an article published in the journal Science, a group of respected experts came together to speak out against prohibitive policies and restrictive regulations targeting vaping. They point out that there is no evidence that vaping is harmful, and those prohibitive policies will simply turn smokers back toward tobacco or even worse, black market alternatives.
In addition to noting the lack of risk associated with vaping, they also note its remarkable efficacy as a smoking cessation aid. A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that not only is vaping more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults not only quit smoking, but vaping also helped these users remain tobacco-free as well.
Not only has vaping been repeatedly demonstrated as an effective smoking cessation aid, but a reduced harm alternative as well. Research from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
The FDA’s enforcement action represents the misguided public health priorities of various government agencies. Focusing on a moral war against vaping during the height of a pandemic should be concerning to the public at large.
In addition to the potential public health ramifications of prohibitive policies, these measures have greater economic impacts as well. Forcing companies to dramatically shift their focus at the onset of a global depression is essentially setting them up for direct failure, further exacerbating tax shortfalls, and increasing budget concerns.
Members of the vaping industry and community must stand in solidarity against regulatory crackdowns targeting them. Vaping offers plenty of promise and potential for those currently addicted to smoking and should be readily accessible during such trying times.
What are your thoughts regarding the FDA’s enforcement action? Do you believe the agency has proper public health priorities amid this pandemic? Let us know what you think in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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