FDA announces plan to crack down on teen vaping
COLUMBIA - The Food and Drug Administration announced last Wednesday electronic cigarette manufacturers have 2 months to prove their products will not end up in the hands of minors.
The FDA said teenage usage of electronic cigarettes has become an “epidemic,” and demanded industry officials regulate the products or risk having them removed from the market.
E-cigarettes were initially marketed as cessation products, but FDA officials said the different flavors meant to ween smokers off tobacco are actually enticing teens to pick up them up.
According to the Associated Press, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “the agency did not predict an ‘epidemic of addiction’ among youth.” Since then, the FDA has sent warnings and fines out to multiple manufacturers and retailers about sales to minors.
In Columbia, 15 shops were caught selling tobacco products to minors since the FDA implemented compliance checks in March.
Natalie Callahan, manager of We B Smokin’ in Columbia said a ban on flavored tobacco won’t help the problem of teen consumption.
“We always have problems with teens trying to come in our stores and that’s never going to stop,” said Callahan. “But we do card everyone, so it doesn’t take them a long time to realize that they’re not going to get in.”
Callahan said e-cigs sales “spiked” when they first hit the market about 5 years ago, regardless of whether or not they were flavored. But she said the most popular flavor in her store is tobacco.
However, Michelle Shikles, Public Health Professional Supervisor at Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services, said flavoring is the reason for the spike in teen tobacco use.
“There are many things drawing the youth to these products and one of them is the flavors,” said Shikles.
Shikles said nicotine “basically rewires” the adolescent brain and puts teens who consume tobacco products at greater risk for mood disorders, addiction and ADD.
Ginny Chadwick, Regional Director of Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, said e-cigarettes began “marketing themselves as cessation products in order to get FDA approval.” She said the tobacco companies claiming to be cessation producers created a loophole, and said this gray area allowed the FDA to put off approval. The products are not currently FDA approved as cessation products.
Chadwick said Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation has been one of several coalitions to pressure the FDA into banning the flavored products. Chadwick said products like Vuse and Juul are shielded from harsh regulations because of their status as cessation products.
“In Columbia, retailers, who are making a profit off of selling an addictive, deadly substance, are selling these products to our children,” said Chadwick.
The FDA said manufacturers have 60 days to regulate their products.