In 2011 The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced they would regulate e-cigarette vaping products with nicotine as tobacco products. The FDA originally tried to regulate ecigs as a drug-delivery device but ultimately failed because the nicotine in ecigs is derived from tobacco leaves. The FDA did manage to roll out regulations to domestic USA based liquid manufactures and retailers to remove products with “misleading” packaging.
Under the guidance of former FDA head Scott Gottlieb, the FDA addressed packaging and adverting requirements. From that point onward, the industry has self-regulated on behalf of the FDA. Manufacturers of vape liquids were also required to provide the FDA with a list of all eliquid brands, names, and flavor lists and issued TP numbers after they registered.
However, a massive nationwide call to action has taken place in the recent wake of the spread of “vaping related illness”. Critics are using this national crisis to push the ban of flavors citing it would protect the youth population who are illegally using nicotine vapor products. But how can the connection be made between tainted THC cartridges and a flavor ban on nicotine store-bought vape products be made? Any ban made on flavors would eliminate the store-bought nicotine vape market for adults.
More recently, the FDA has taken fire from the Trump administration for failing to address the “youth vaping epidemic”. Melania Trump recently held a press conference for the Red Ribbon event which promoted the push for a federal level flavor ban.
But would a flavor ban on nicotine store-bought products actually solve the youth vaping epidemic? Here is a look at the most common argument in favor of banning the sale of flavored nicotine products.
Argument: Flavors are a marketing vehicle to hook the youth to vaping nicotine.
This statement has been the trojan horse for all legislators and key anti-vaping groups nationwide to push a flavor ban for all nicotine store-bought vape liquids. The truth is plain and simple. Adults enjoy flavors too. The use of flavorings in electronic cigarette liquids is one of the driving factors in helping prevent adult former smokers who switch to e-cigarettes from going back to traditional cigarettes.
A survey of 4,500 adult e-cigarette users was conducted by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Research which concluded that 50% of the users (median age 40) surveyed responded that a lack of flavors to use in e-cigarettes would increase their cravings for tobacco cigarettes and would decrease their chances of remaining abstinent from smoking.
The implications of banning flavors could send millions of adults back to tobacco cigarettes. Among the survey respondents, the most commonly used flavors were fruits, followed by sweets and tobacco. On a scale of 1-5, the average score given by the respondents for the importance of flavor variability in reducing or quitting smoking was 4 (“very important”).
In addition, other FDA approved nicotine replacement therapy (lozenge or gum) which are ingested come in flavors such as cherry, fruit & mint. Based on the same claims as nicotine being addictive and flavored should those products also be removed from the market?
Available data showing the effectiveness of adults who use store-bought nicotine vape products to quit smoking tobacco make for a strong case for the need for flavors if the FDA plans on helping adults kick tobacco dependancy.