Vaping Amongst American Teenagers
The FDA, America’s Food and Drug Administration, is planning to announce a ban on the sale of many e-liquid flavours across the country. It is believed that this move is intended to reduce the popularity of vaping among young people in the US which the FDA believes is growing too rapidly.
This announcement will likely happen sometime next week and could also include plans for age verification in US stores to make it harder for teenagers to buy vaping products.
There has been a lot of speculation about the FDAs future plans and it looks like we’re close to getting an answer. But what will this new plan mean for vaping in America and the rest of the world?
The FDA have described the numbers of teenagers vaping in America as an “epidemic” and believe that an aggressive crackdown is needed to deal with the issue.
The popularity of Juul in the US has been the focus of FDA discussion recently as this product now dominates seventy percent of the US vaping market. Juul have received criticism that their devices are marketed toward teenagers and the FDA have issued them a deadline to prove that they can keep their devices away from minors.
But despite this concern, the number of teenagers vaping in America might not be as high as the FDA suggest. Surveys by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health, a leading health charity) have noticed an increase in eleven to eighteen year olds who claim to have tried vaping but the number that said they vape regularly has remained at under three percent for years.
Vaping is not completely free of health risks and while there are plenty of nicotine-free e-liquids available, the risk of children becoming addicted is one of the FDA’s biggest concerns. But critics of the new plan have warned that the FDA could be making it harder for smokers to give up which will have a negative impact on the nation’s health.
Ultimatums and Stores
The 60 days ultimatum
Back in September, the FDA issued a sixty day deadline to Juul and a handful of other manufacturers to prove that they were doing enough to keep vaping products out of teenagers’ hands. The FDA has set its new plan to be announced next week and some believe it is a response to the popularity of vaping among teenagers and a way of enforcing their ultimatum to vaping companies to improve or face a ban.
Closed vaping systems
At the moment it looks like the FDA ban will not impact open vaping systems, the kind of vaping that most of us in the UK are used to. Instead the flavour ban will focus on closed vaping systems like Juul and other vape pods. This could mean restricting sales of pods to flavours like mint, menthol and tobacco while banning other flavours that they believe have more youth appeal.
All stores selling vaping products may be required to check IDs and verify age at point of purchase under the new plan. But it’s believed that the FDA plans will mainly target American convenience stores, gas stations and other stores where e-liquids are not the main products on sale.
Dedicated vape stores could have age restrictions, preventing teenagers from entering the premises. It’s being speculated that the reason dedicated vape stores might not be hit as harshly is that statistics show the majority of their customers are adults looking to use vaping to help quit smoking while teenagers are more likely to use other stores.
The FDA plan is likely to introduce age verification to US online vaping stores to prevent teenagers from buying over the internet.
In the United Kingdom, we’re used to age verification when using online stores as it is common for many products, including e-liquids. But the FDAs plan could force American online stores to verify age at point of delivery as well.
Potential Resistance And Concerns
Although the plan hasn’t been announced yet, there are already many who are concerned about the potential negative impact.
Vaping has been proven to almost double the chances of smokers giving up cigarettes for good and the majority of vapers take up vaping to get away from the health risks of smoking. Restricting the choice and availability of vape pods, which are the most common form of vaping in the US, could make it harder for smokers to quit.
The number of smokers in the US has been decreasing since vaping was first introduced. Today an estimated fourteen percent of American adults smoke, which is a big drop from twenty-three percent back in the year 2000.
Supporters of the plan argue that taking flavours that have more “youth appeal” off the shelves shouldn’t have a big impact on smokers trying to give up. But are they right?
In addition to the health concerns for smokers wanting to quit, critics of the FDAs plan have also suggested that it will be difficult to implement and likely to face resistance. Determining what stores the new restrictions apply to is a particular sticking point as well as enforcing age verification.
What Does It All Mean?
We don’t know exactly what the FDA plans will involve until they are officially announced which is likely to happen next week. From what they’ve said so far, the FDA are determined to crackdown on teenage vapers and have already hinted that some of the ideas mentioned above are likely to be included in their plan.
Critics fear that these proposals could be damaging to the health of the nation, making it harder for smokers to use vaping to quit. Supporters have argued that a compromise needs to be made to keep teenagers away from addictive substances.
Until the FDAs plans are officially announced we won’t know exactly what this means for vaping in the United States. But big changes are potentially about to happen and the global vaping community is watching closely.