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Teen Vaping Could Go Up in Smoke

Sep 19, 2018

By Dean George

Some call it “vaping.” Students often call it juuling, as in Juul, the top selling brand of e-cigarettes in the country.

Whatever you call e-cigarette use, last week Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb called it an epidemic for minors, and last week he drew a red line in the sand for both e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers.

On September 12 the FDA announced that if Juul Labs and four other e-cigarette manufacturers don’t halt sales of their product to minors within 60 days, the FDA may remove their flavored products from the market.

Popular e-cigarette flavors among youth include fruit medley, crème brulee, cool mint, mango and others.

Federal law prohibits selling e-cigarettes to anyone under age 18.

The FDA also noted that warning letters would be sent to 1,100 retailers that are believed to sell e-cigarettes to minors, including 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Circle K convenience stores and Shell gas stations.

Last week the agency announced they had already levied 131 fines ranging from $279 to $11,182.

As previously reported in Dental Wire, manufacturers of the lithium powered battery devices offer a product that resembles traditional cigarettes but burn e-liquid cartridges, or pods, containing a nicotine-laced heated mist of water, glycerin and propylene glycol. The pods convert into a vapor when inhaled.

The New York Times reports that Juul controls 72 percent of the e-cig market, which is why students often call school restrooms “the Juul Room.”  Juul, Blu, MarkTen, Vuse and Logic control 97 percent of the e-cigarette market.

In some creative marketing, Juuls has also created a niche for themselves by offering an e-cigarette that resembles the flash drives that students often use in school.

E-cigarettes have proved popular with adults trying to quit smoking because they allow users to enjoy nicotine at lower levels than regular cigarettes. 

Critics contend that may be true, but it’s also a lure to introduce a whole new generation of consumers to their nicotine-laced products. A pediatrics professor at Dartmouth University has called e-cigarettes “a training-wheels version” of smoking.

That professor may be right.  In 2017, 2.1 million U.S. middle and high school students admitted using e-cigarettes. 

In September 2013 Dental Wire reported that e-cigarette use more than doubled among middle and high school students in 2012. In September 2015 we reported that e-cigarette use had tripled between 2013 and 2014 among American teenagers and young adults.

Supporters of e-cigarettes argue that users inhale far few toxic chemicals than with traditional cigarettes, but critics point out that many e-cigarette pods contain higher levels of nicotine and nicotine is addictive.

As previously noted in earlier Dental Wire articles, as many as one-third of young people who used the battery-powered “e-cigs” began smoking traditional cigarettes within a year.

“I’ve been warning the e-cigarette industry for more than a year that they needed to do much more to stem the youth trends,” Gottlieb said last week in a statement. “In my view, they treated these issues like a public relations challenge rather than seriously considering their legal obligations, the public health mandate, and the existential threat of these products.”

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Copyright 2018, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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