It can seem like e-cigarettes are everywhere, as are warnings about vaping, the term used to refer to smoking e-cigs. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended its authority to include e-cigarettes in its rules on tobacco. These rules include banning selling all tobacco products – including e-cigarettes – to minors, monitoring the products’ ingredients, and requiring warnings.
Recent research shows vaping is linked to serious lung illnesses, and e-cigarettes can be more addictive than conventional cigarettes. Despite these facts, e-cigs were once promoted (and sometimes still are) as a smoking cessation tool.
“For smokers who are trying to quit, the ready accessibility to e-cigarettes will always be a challenge to overcome compared to seeking alternative methods such as therapy, nicotine patches, nicotine chewing gum and support groups - all which may take time and money,” Dr. Carla Williams of Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., says. “Today, it is too easy to acquire vape products.”
There is also much alarm about teens, who are vaping at rapidly increasing rates. One reason for vaping’s popularity among teens is e-cigarettes marketing, which is often youth-oriented and advertises a variety of flavors. However, recently, the FDA decided to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to deter younger people.
In January of 2020, the FDA banned most cartridge-based flavors in e-cigarettes, including fruit flavors and mints. Menthol and tobacco flavored e-cigarettes are still available, however.
“…We are already seeing a decline in the marketing, promotion and sales of e-cigarettes in certain media outlets, similar to the ban on traditional cigarette advertisements on television and radio in the early 1970’s,” Dr. Williams says.
According to the FDA, the regulations target e-cigarettes that are “easily concealable,” and among the 5 million teens who vape, cartridge-based systems are the most popular.
However, the ban does not mean that manufacturers can’t apply to sell flavored products. The new rules simply mean that flavored e-cigarette products that come in a cartridge form cannot be sold without regulation.
The FDA plans to increase enforcement in May of 2020, which is the deadline for manufacturers seeking to apply to continue to sell their flavored products. The FDA’s enforcement against e-cigarettes is all part of its Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, which targets manufacturers who sell and market tobacco products to teens.