Hear Us Roar! FDA Extends Probe Thanks To Pressure From Vapers
The vaping community has another 30 days to tell the FDA what flavored e-liquids mean to them
Flavor bans have been a new, but prevalent, obstacle for vapers around the country. Proponents claim that flavored products do little more than attract otherwise non-smoking teens into picking up the habit. At the same time, many adult vapers claim that the wide variety of tastes is precisely what helps them stay off cigarettes indefinitely. Regardless, it seems that public opinion is now firmly on the side of banning flavored tobacco products. Unfortunately, and for frankly silly reasons, the umbrella terms of “tobacco products” includes vaporizers and e-liquids.
As a result, we’re seeing more and more flavor bans passed into law. Just recently the city of San Francisco voted in favor of what many consider the strictest flavor ban in the country. Right around the time this vote came in, the FDA announced they’d be extending their ongoing public probe into flavored e-liquids another 30 days, until July 16, 2018. Unfortunately, the extended time doesn’t ensure that the majority of people and organizations who now voice their concerns will be pro-vaping. This sets up what could be a huge month for vapers, giving the community more time to make their voices heard.
Evolving FDA Stance
While almost no media outlets noted the move, the FDA recently updated their description of their flavor ban to reflect the extended deadline. The summary outlined the FDA’s desire to understand precisely how they should proceed toward their goal of lowering the impact of nicotine on creating and sustaining smokers, especially among teens. The significant effect of this update is the extension of the deadline for public comment. But if you’re worried about your favorite e-liquid flavor, take just a little time out of your day and submit a comment about how vital flavors were to your vaping success.
In addition to the extended deadline, the FDA commissioner recently issued a mysterious warning to the vaping industry at large in a speech given to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Scott Gottlieb said that it was time for the industry to “step up and step up soon.” He continued to paint a picture of vaping businesses callously rebuking the impact of their products on the youth. But if you take a look at the research into teenage vaping, you begin to form a much different picture of the issue.
While it may be a compelling anecdote, the data suggests that concerns over teenage vaping are blown way out of proportion. A study of over 60,000 teens between the ages of 11-16 concluded that only a minuscule percentage of the non-smoking students ever picked up vaping regularly. In fact, the researchers found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of never smoking participants vaped chronically. And that’s just those who started vaping. Only an even smaller portion of those students would ever pick up smoking traditional cigarettes due to vaping.
But what about the flavor bans; Are they ultimately making things worse? Well, research out of Yale University seems to suggest that in fact, an influx of flavor bans will do more harm than good in the long run. Dr. John Buckell led the study, which gave scientific predictions of the impact of different policies on long-term smoking and vaping rates. After calculating all of their data, Dr. Buckell and his team concluded that if all e-liquid flavors other than traditional tobacco were banned along with menthol cigarettes, nearly 10% of current vapers would relapse into smoking. Alternatively, they found that if just menthol cigarettes were banned, Big Tobacco would lose over 5% in sales in just a couple of years.
It’s more important now than ever that you make sure your voice is heard. While the extension could potentially be good news, it could just as quickly become a perfect opportunity for the anti-vapers to control the narrative. That’s why we must make the most out of the extra time we’re given and make sure that we get everyone we know who vaping has helped to tell the FDA precisely what flavors meant to their success. Despite the mounting research which indicates that vaping is not only much safer than smoking but also one of the best smoking cessation tools we have, legislators have just doubled down on their aversion to utilizing this fantastic aid. The only thing we can do to improve the chances of a change of heart is by overwhelming the FDA with comments about precisely why you believe that flavors are an integral part of what makes vaping such an excellent smoking cessation and harm reduction tool.
Have flavor bans affected you or anyone you know? Do you believe that enough public comment is enough to get the FDA to change their course? How can we help educate the public about the significant benefits to 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.