Cleveland County has become the first jurisdiction in North Carolina to update its tobacco-free signs in schools to include e-cigarettes. The signage is in line with state law which includes electronic cigarettes among the tobacco products banned on school grounds or premises. The Cleveland County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition partnered with the public schools to put up those signs. North Carolina passed a law to make schools tobacco-free zones about 10 years ago and the policy has been rewarded with a 50% drop in cigarette smoking among high schoolers since that law was passed. The inclusion of e-cigs in the signage is intended to make it clear that vaping is also illegal on school campuses. Should this approach be borrowed by school districts in other states where “juuling” has become a popular activity? The results of this new campaign in Cleveland County will guide other school districts on the effectiveness of this approach.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stopped the introduction of new electronic cigarette products without regulatory approval in August 2016. Existing products on the market would also need to seek approval by 2022. However, that deadline seems to have been flouted by numerous manufacturers who have brought Juul look-alikes on the market. The manufacturers include Kandypens, VGOD, Myle Vapor, Imperial Brands Plc and British American Tobacco Plc. The copycats are less pricy than Juul and are already making inroads among teens who welcome the cheaper alternative to the Juul pods. The new products are openly marketed on company websites and on social media channels. This mutation is sure to increase the headache of regulators who are grappling to understand the appeal of Juul and flavored e-liquids among minors. It remains to be seen what the FDA will do in response to the blatant defiance of its restriction by the makers of the new products.
Producers and retailers of electronic cigarette products in Switzerland have voluntarily agreed to stop selling e-cigs to minors even if no law exists in the country banning such sales. The code of conduct agreed to by a consortium of large retailers and e-cig makers took effect on October 1, 2018. This decision was welcomed by the regulator (Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office) under whose docket the electronic cigarette industry lies. Laws are currently being drafted to regulate the electronic cigarette industry on various aspects, such as who should or shouldn’t be allowed to buy the products. The voluntary ban comes after the Federal Administrative Court in Switzerland overturned the government ban of e-cig sales in the country. The court argued that those products are allowed in the EU, so the government had no right to ban them in an EU member state. The court’s ruling was issued in April. It remains to be seen what specific measures the electronic cigarette manufacturers and retailers will enforce in order to prevent teens from buying their products.
The FDA started implementing its “The Real Cost” campaign in 2014 in order to educate teens about the dangers of tobacco use. That campaign has now been expanded to include messages to teens about the dangers of vaping electronic cigarettes. Social media as well as ads placed in high school bathrooms will be used to get these messages to as many teens as possible. The FDA is particularly concerned by “an epidemic” of vaping among teens, with Juul pods as the most popular product among underage vapers. The education campaign comes at a time when the regulator is threatening “historic” action against several e-cig manufacturers that are thought to target teens with their product designs and marketing messages. Anyone with useful suggestions that can help to put an end to underage access to electronic cigarettes and other addictive substances should share that information so that teens can be saved from the risks associated with these products.
The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are reviewing available information about the potential benefits of novel tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, with a view to lifting the ban on those products in case the review concludes that they will bring public health benefits to the smokers in the country. ESMA (Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology) is the government consumer watchdog charged with the responsibility of conducting that data review. Industry players like Philip Morris International have welcomed the review saying that they are willing to work with the authorities in order to create conditions that avail needed products without creating any additional risks. Will the UAE think carefully about the challenges that the U.S. FDA is facing in trying to curb teen vaping as it ponders whether to open its borders to electronic cigarettes?