The recent actions and announcements by the FDA regarding the measures it is taking or plans to take in order to stem the tide of teen vaping has many public health experts worried that the agency is overreacting to the events surrounding electronic cigarettes. Consequently, the Attorney General for Iowa, the chair of the Advisory Board of the Center for Health Law and other experts have written a letter to the FDA cautioning it to think carefully about any step that they plan to take or risk causing worse public health problems down the road. For example, they suggest that the agency should distinguish between teens who vape regularly/daily from those who do it once in a while, and then design measures to address regular use rather lumping occasional use with daily use. Similarly, the experts ask the FDA to establish whether daily vapers among adolescents aren’t smokers as well who need e-cigarettes in order to reduce or switch from combustible cigarettes. This letter is a good reminder that one shouldn’t use a sledge hammer to swat a fly. Will the FDA listen to the voice of reason?
In the wake of the release of the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, the FDA has announced tough measures to curb what it calls an “epidemic” of youth vaping. Teen vaping reportedly increased by 78 percent over the past year, and this has the FDA worried. Consequently, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., announced that flavored e-cig products would no longer be sold in places that minors can access, such as convenience stores. The ban doesn’t apply to mint and menthol products because combustible tobacco cigarettes are still being sold in places with no age restrictions. The FDA didn’t want to give combustible cigarettes an advantage over e-cigarettes. Furthermore, the regulatory agency is planning to revise its timeline for the premarket approval of flavored products instead of waiting until 2021 as it had initially planned. The agency also plans to announce enhanced age-verification measures for the online sale of vaping products. Websites will be expected to comply with those guidelines as soon as they become available. One can only hope that the steps being taken by the FDA can put an end to the growing trend of minors using nicotine products.