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If you have been paying attention to the news lately, or if you spend any time with teenagers, you probably have heard the term “vaping.” Kids often call it “Juuling”, referring to Juul – the top-selling brand of e-cigarettes in this country.
No matter what it is called, in September of this year, the FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb declared it an epidemic for minors. He issued a stern warning to five of the largest manufacturers of e-cigarettes stating they will have 60 days to come up with a plan to reverse under-age use of their e-cigarettes or risk having the insidious flavored products pulled from the market. These companies include Juul, Vuse, Blu, MarkTen XL, and Logic brands. Popular e-cigarette flavors among teenagers include fruit medley, crème brulee, and cool mint.
This is a big change from the agency’s tone on e-cigarettes. The FDA previously considered e-cigarettes to be a tool to help wean adult smokers off of traditional cigarettes even though it has not been proven to actually help. The FDA admitted that the agency failed to predict the current epidemic which they believe is being driven by the flavored products.
Here is what Gottlieb said in his announcement: “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable. I’ll be clear. The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products.”
A statement from Juul, based in San Francisco and commanding over 60% of the e-cigarette market, stated that it is working to prevent underage use of its products but at the same time stated that flavors can help adult smokers quit traditional cigarettes. A representative from the company insisted they never intentionally marketed to teens. But in an ingenious marketing ploy, Juul created an e-cigarette resembling a flash-drive, something that students often use in school.
Supporters of e-cigarettes argue that users inhale far fewer toxic chemicals than with traditional cigarettes. Critics point out that many e-cigarette pods contain higher levels of nicotine which is addictive, as well as the fact that an entire younger generation has been introduced to nicotine-based products.
U.S. officials say teenage use of e-cigarettes has reached “epidemic” levels and that as many as one-third of young people who use the products begin smoking traditional cigarettes within a year. As health professionals, we support the FDA’s decision to crack down on the manufacturers of these devices.
The Associated Press
image credit: OfferUp
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