It’s a day that some might say has been on the horizon for a while. The FDA are actively considering banning e-cigarettes in the USA altogether if the so-called ‘epidemic’ of underage vaping continues to rise.
What Has Caused This Radical Step?
Simply put, young American teens are starting to take up vaping at an ever-increasing frequency. To put this into context, there are roughly 3.2 million vapers in the UK, almost all of which are adult smokers/former smokers. In the USA, the use of e-cigarettes by underage people alone is estimated to be around 3.6 million, which is almost half a million more than the entire vaping population on our shores.
1.5 million young people started vaping during 2017-2018, representing a spike of 78% amongst secondary school pupils and 48% in other year groups, a figure which the FDA say could mean ‘game over’ for some vaping products in the USA.
The latest US figures also claim that vaping has outpaced the likes of alcohol, marijuana and other substances to become the top ‘high risk substance’ used by teenagers.
What Is The FDA Saying?
Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently stated 'I'll tell you this. If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of the dramatic rise in 2018, the entire category will face an existential threat, It could be 'game over' for some of these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process. I think the stakes are that high.'
This highly charged statement continued to single out specific e-cigarette manufacturers such as JUUL, who command a massive 72% of the vaping market in the USA, and attributed the appearance of a new verb called ‘juuling’ amongst youths as one example of the extent to this ‘epidemic’.
What About Adult Vapers Who Rely On E-cigarettes To Quit Smoking?
As of August 2018, there was estimated to be 10.8 million adult vapers in the USA, a large majority of whom rely on vaping to stay off the cigarettes by using it as a healthier alternative. Mr Gottlieb did appear to recognise that these people would be affected by such a ban should it come into effect and stated it 'would be a blow' for adult smokers, who he said 'could potentially benefit from these products.'
The implications of a ban for adult vapers are quite clear. With no way to obtain their regular products, most will unfortunately face the prospect of returning back to smoking cigarettes, affecting both their long term health and the health of others through second hand smoke.
Is There A Common-sense Solution?
Vaping has become a bastion of hope for those people who have been unable to break free from the chains of smoking using conventional quit smoking aids. By simply banning e-cigarettes, the FDA do not necessarily solve the problem, indeed it could have even wider implications as both adults and youths will undoubtedly seek to continue vaping, perhaps even through other, less regulated means.
The solution to this issue needs to come from a more measured regulatory response from the government, ensuring that all vape stores both online and on the high street are complying with current age restrictions would be a start, but also by providing factual, non-biased education about vaping to the general public. By informing parents, schools and even older siblings about vaping and its intended use, youths can be steered away from these products leaving adults able to continue being free from smoking.
Young people do tend to copy others around them, and if the right message is delivered, there is no reason as to why the USA can’t begin to take back control over this situation before resorting to a totalitarian ban on all things e-cigs.
What Will The Future Hold?
For now, there appears to be no end to the lack of cohesion between vaping advocates and the United States government. The bias seen against e-cigarettes is often toxic and originates from unfounded ‘research’ and a general ignorance of the true value vaping represents to the smoking population.
The future of vaping in the US appears to be hanging by a thread, and the sad thing is that only the likes of the FDA and government have real power to change this, but instead they seem to be choosing ignorance over common sense, potentially to the detriment of millions who rely on vaping as the only viable way for them to quit smoking.
Please note: The opinions expressed within this blog are that of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Electronic Cigarette Company (TECC)