After months of pressure from lawmakers and public health advocates, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially banned nearly all flavors of pod-based e-cigarettes, including fruit and mint flavors that appeal to kids. The only flavors excluded from the FDA ban are menthol and tobacco.
The ban is intended to curb the epidemic of youth vaping and highlights the health dangers of vaping flavored e-cigarettes. Studies on flavored e-cigarettes, even those that don’t contain nicotine, have shown detrimental health effects in adult vapers. The potential health dangers of vaping could be worse for younger vapers with developing lungs.
“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a Jan. 2, 2020 press release. “We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary.”
The latest statistics on youth vaping show more than 5 million middle and high schoolers use e-cigarettes. About 1 million of those students reported using e-cigarettes on a daily basis. The rise of youth vaping, coupled with the rise of a dangerous vaping-related lung illness that has sickened more than 2,500 people and killed at least 55, pushed lawmakers and regulatory agencies like the FDA to act.
In August, the FDA demanded more authorization from e-cigarette makers in order to legally market their products in the US. E-cigarette makers, including the industry dominating JUUL Labs Inc., must now submit evidence to the FDA proving their products are safe. Currently, there are no legally marketed e-cigarettes in the US, but the FDA is focusing its enforcement on certain products:
E-cigarette manufacturers have until May 2020 to submit applications to the FDA to keep their products on the market.
The FDA’s ban on fruit and mint flavors, which data show are the flavors that youth reach for most often, is intended to curb the alarming trend of youth vaping in the US. The agency is leaving tobacco and menthol flavors on the market in an effort to balance the needs of adults trying to quit traditional smoking.
“By not prioritizing enforcement against other flavored ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) products in the same way as flavored cartridge-based ENDS products, the FDA has attempted to balance the public health concerns related to youth use of ENDS products with considerations regarding addicted adult cigarette smokers who may try to use ENDS products to transition away from combustible tobacco products,” the agency wrote in its press release.
Tobacco- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes will eventually come under scrutiny, as well, when the FDA’s deadline to submit premarket applications comes around and manufacturers must prove their products’ safety in order to keep them on the market.
Whether or not manufacturers can show their e-cigarettes are safe is yet to be determined. The wave of vaping-related lung illnesses that swept the country this past summer—sickening 2,500 and killing 55—brought the risks of vaping front and center. Though the majority of these cases were linked to vitamin E acetate in vape products containing THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), not all cases could be linked back to a THC-containing vape.
Health agencies are still trying to determine the exact causes of these lung illnesses.
Several studies have also pointed to the potential dangers of vaping, including a May 2019 study out of Stanford University, which found a link between heart disease and flavorings in e-cigarette cartridges.
The study looked at the effect of e-liquids on certain cells that line the interior of blood vessels. When exposed to e-liquids, researchers found these cells were less viable and showed increased levels of molecules that damage DNA and contribute to cell death. The damage varied among flavorings, with menthol and cinnamon being especially harmful, and occurred even when there was no nicotine in the cartridge.
“This study clearly shows that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes,” Dr. Joseph Wu, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, said in a press release. “When we exposed the cells to six different flavors of e-liquid with varying levels of nicotine, we saw significant damage. The cells were less viable in culture, and they began to exhibit multiple symptoms of dysfunction.”
Dr. Wu continued, “Now we know that e-cigarettes are likely to have other significantly toxic effects on vascular function as well. It’s important for e-cigarette users to realize that these chemicals are circulating within their bodies and affecting their vascular health.”
E-cigarettes are a relatively new product. Research on the health effects of e-cigarettes is also new and there are no long-term studies showing e-cigarettes are safe. If you vape, you should get checked out by a doctor, especially vapers under the age of 25 who are still developing. Even if you show no signs or symptoms, many vapers are symptom free but may have serious health consequences from vaping.
People who used vaping products and suffered adverse health effects are filing E-cigarette Lawsuits against JUUL, Blu, NJOY, and other major manufacturers of e-cigarettes.
If you used e-cigarettes and were subsequently injured, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Our team of experienced attorneys and case managers offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. Call us at 800-631-5656 or visit nationalinjuryadvocates.com today.