FDA Announces New E-Cig Regulations
Is the FDA’s Reasoning Flawed?
The FDA is releasing the data from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey today. This document has been used to guide the recent wave of regulations against the e-cigarette industry and was hinted at in previous announcements. Rumblings about these new FDA regulations on e-cigarettes, referred to as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in their documents, were leaked last week.
As suspected at the time, the FDA announcement revealed a flawed approach that is based on two questionable conclusions: that that convenience stores are incapable of adhering to age verification standards and fruit/dessert ejuices exist largely to hook children.
Press Release or a Political Document
Worse still, the actual FDA press release today was not presented in a dispassionate and scientific manner. Instead it relied on the sort of rhetoric, logical leaps and buzz words you might expect in a political debate or heated argument. Is it unreasonable to ask for a scientific approach that is free from this sort of sophistry? Regardless of your thoughts on the press release, there is little doubt that it is a strongly worded political document.
The FDA’s Case for New Regulations
If the case against youth e-cigarette use is as strong as the FDA insists it is, they should not have to rely on so many transparent appeals to emotion. Scott Gottlieb’s recent statements and tweets on the e-cigarette industry are a textbook example of virtue signaling.
Cut through the FDA’s editorializing and you will find a set of crucial stats that are alarming. There was a 78 percent increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students between 2017 and 2018. This is the “epidemic” Scott Gottlieb is warning us about and here is what the FDA plans on doing about it.
The FDA Plan to Halt Youth Vaping Epidemic
The first step in the FDA’s plan is to limit the availability of fruit and dessert flavored ejuices to age-restricted, in person locations. Tobacco, mint and menthol flavors will still be permitted at convenience stores and gas stations.
The FDA’s lack of faith in the ability of convenience stores to card properly is not backed up by facts. This class of store had a 96.7 percent rate of success in an FDA sponsored compliance test this summer.
More importantly, the congressional authority given to the FDA is not unlimited and the legal basis of differentiating between adult stores and convenience stores may face its day in court. After all, many of these locations are permitted to sell alcohol, lottery tickets, cigarettes and pornography.
It is also worth noting that social channels, rather than in-person purchases, are the top source of e-cigarette products for minors. This important consideration was a notable oversight in the nearly 4,000 word press release.
Fruit Flavor Fallacy
If you have followed the FDA’s manuevers this year, it is clear that fruit/dessert flavored ejuices are in their crosshairs. They have made it abundantly clear that they think sweet flavor profiles are largely responsible for the uptick in youth vaping. The press announcement today cited a study that found only 20 percent of 12-17 year olds used mint and menthol flavors but that among adults that number was 41 percent. This is blamed on the use of attractive and vibrant packaging that is believed to target children.
Assuming unscrupulous marketing tactics are to blame for the popularity of sweeter flavors with minors, why is a ban on this type of packaging not enough? Their own numbers show that fruit/dessert flavors are also preferred by the majority of adult ENDS and this should be taken into consideration. Imposing barriers on adults and punishing stores that are in complete compliance with the law is costly trade-off.
Chicago Mayor Files Lawsuit Against Eight E-Juice Companies
Companies that intentionally target minors deserve to be called out. In Chicago this week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched a lawsuit against 8 companies that sold to minors online and 15 locations that failed to age verify were also targeted. Although we disagree with his punitive e-juice taxes and general approach to e-cigarettes, in this case he has shown that it is possible to pinpoint offenders without inflicting onerous regulations on the countless businesses that are operating responsibly.
How Vapor4Life Fights Against Youth Nicotine Use
At Vapor4Life, we have no interest in selling our products to children. We exist to provide adult smokers with an enjoyable cigarette alternative that is free from tar, ash and smoke. As a result, we make a point of performing our due diligence and then some.
In order to keep our products out the hands of children we rely on Veratad, the industry leader in age verification technology. This is the same system that is used by the largest companies selling age restricted products online including vaping supplies, ejuice, alcohol and sports betting. Rather just a meaningless check box, this system compares purchaser data against multiple trusted data sources.
In addition, all of our sales and customer service team members have completed We Card training. We Card is the industry leading standard for in-store age confirmation. In fact, we exceed the local legal requirement and card all customers regardless of age at our Northbrook Vape Shop.