This isn’t about the safety of vaping, or the safety of vaping flavors, this is about the role that flavors play in tobacco products.
The FDA on Tuesday released a press announcement regarding flavored tobacco and how best to regulate it, bearing in mind the dual role it now plays. On the one side flavors are seen as one of the top 3 reasons children take up smoking, yet on the other, it is one of the top reasons millions have switched away from tobacco and are now vaping.
“When it comes to flavors in non-combustible products like electronic nicotine delivery systems or e-cigarettes we recognize the issue involves additional considerations. Here, it’s possible for flavors to do both harm and good. The troubling reality is that e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school students, and flavors are identified as one of the top three reasons for use. Given these findings, we need to be wary of the role flavors play in attracting youth to initiate on any tobacco product that could lead to regular use – something we clearly want to avoid. No child should use any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. At the same time, we’re aware that certain flavors may help currently addicted adult smokers switch to potentially less harmful forms of nicotine-containing tobacco products.”
The announcement comes across as very reasonable, carefully worded and openly acknowledges the role that flavors play in vaping.
Yet the FDA appears to be stuck between a rock and hard place, but are they?
They need to consider youth uptake, where we know smoking rates are down but vaping rates are up – (depending upon where you sit with that, it’s either outrageous or harm reduction in play) – versus adult quitting where flavors are probably one of the most important parts in keeping smokers off the cigarettes, and achieving the stated goal of reducing smoker numbers.
FDA Commissioner Gottleib is doing his level best to come across as aware and approachable, and at face value he is being open about this dilemma, writing,
“I’ve talked to ex-smokers, who’ve told me that they quit cigarettes altogether and that they now vape. And they’ve also told me it was the flavors that helped them make that transition off combustible cigarettes. Now I know anecdotes aren’t the same as data. And the ANPRM specifically seeks data on this issue. But these personal stories are important to me as we shape our overall approach to smoking cessation. And it’s important to me that we uphold the FDA’s responsibility to consider all sides and take into account, among other things, the risks and benefits to the population as a whole.”
Interestingly though, Gottleib was interviewed on CNBC and stated at the end of the interview regarding reduced nicotine cigarettes that he will put youth first, to a level of 1 youth to 10 adults.
The FDA will have a plan in mind, they will know what they want to do, but they are asking for your input and every vaper should take advantage of this.
“As such, we’re proceeding with the utmost caution by securing more information about both the potential positives and negatives of flavors in youth initiation and getting adult smokers to quit or transition to potentially less harmful products. Through this lens, the ANPRM we’re issuing today seeks comments, data, research results or other information.”
The FDA state they are open to opinions, they state they want stakeholder input – and that means you – so let’s help them.
One of the areas they are asking for comment is:
‘The role that flavors may play in helping some adult cigarette smokers reduce cigarette use and/or switch to potentially less harmful tobacco products.’
You can help the FDA to make sensible regulations regarding flavored e liquid in two ways:
The first is digitally.
Write to the FDA and let them know how vital the flavors were in helping you transition away from tobacco. Remember, even the tobacco flavors are considered flavor. Do include this point in your letter if you can. If all flavors are banned, then vaping will die out because e-liquids without the flavor taste pretty foul.
The link to the online FDA submission: https://www.regulations.gov
The second way is the good old fashioned snail mail. You can write to the FDA and post
your letter to :
Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration,
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061,
Rockville, MD 20852.
The FDA will be open for stakeholder input for 90 days from the March 21st 2018. – including weekends that would take us to June 19th.
But don’t delay, don’t file this under do tomorrow, write to the FDA, it will take you a couple of minutes. You will have helped yourself and vapers to keep as many flavors as possible, and you’ll help future vapers kick the habit of smoking.