- The FDA rejected applications to market millions of smoking products because they lacked sufficient evidence of benefits for adult smokers.
- The FDA has yet to make decisions about the products of dominant e-cigarette companies like Juul, Vuse, and NJOY.
- Harm reduction advocates say e-cigarettes should stay on the market to encourage smoking cessation and reduce black market sales, but critics are concerned about their use among young people and the potential risks to them. health.
However, the FDA postponed the decision to ban Juul Labs and other major e-cigarette companies, citing additional time to review the remaining applications.
The administration issued orders to deny more than 946,000 applications because they "lacked sufficient evidence that they provide sufficient benefits to adult smokers to overcome the threat to public health posed by the alarmingly well-documented levels of youth use of such products. ".
Osita I. Onuga, MD, a thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of thoracic surgery at the St. John Cancer Institute in Providence Saint John's Health, says that vaping has no benefit, but it has many harmful effects.
"Everything we know about it is bad," Onuga tells Get Meds Info. "There is no way to put any product in the lungs, that's good."
In 2018, the US Surgeon General declared that youth vaping was an epidemic . While there has been a recent decline in e-cigarette use among teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3.6 million youth reported using e-cigarettes in 2020 .
Vaping products, especially those containing THC, have been linked to an outbreak of lung damage between 2019 and 2020. Diacetyl , a chemical found in many flavored e-cigarettes, also causes a serious lung condition called lungs. popcorn . According to the CDC , about 80% of middle and high school students use flavored e-cigarettes.
While e-cigarette use is a major concern among young people, vaping remains a less harmful alternative to cigarettes and an important harm reduction tool for long-term smokers.
For people who believe that they cannot quit smoking in any other way, Onuga believes that vaping is "potentially" the best option. He adds that knowing all the risks associated with e-cigarettes is more difficult because these products have been around for less time and there is not enough data.
Mixed feelings about the risks of vaping
The public has expressed mixed feelings about whether or not vaping is prohibited. Some harm reduction advocates say these products should remain on the market for adult smoking cessation, while critics highlight their negative impact on young consumers.
Jaime Hickey , a 42-year-old fitness trainer who used to use vaping as a method to quit smoking, says he won't be upset if all vaping products are banned.
"Kids think vaping isn't as bad as smoking," Hickey tells Get Meds Info. "I really believe that marketing, by making it happen, makes it easier for young children to participate."
Hickey smoked for 15 years and switched to vaping for five years, during which time his breathing problems worsened. He does not know if the change was caused by vaping or the accumulation of both habits over time, but he considers both products to be harmful.
You no longer smoke, smoke, or drink alcohol, and you feel great about your decision to quit, but you don't encourage others to quit smoking or smoking.
"I had clients tell me they were trying to quit, and I'll give them something that I thought helped a little when I did," Hickey says. "But until you really want to do it, there's no point in trying."
However, harm reduction advocates say that vaping products can reduce the health risks associated with smoking, or ultimately eliminate someone's nicotine altogether.
"Vaping is literally harm reduction, not smoking flammable tobacco," says Brooke Feldman, MSW, co-founder of the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network, to Get Meds Info.
"For many people, it can certainly be a move away from combustible tobacco, and ultimately the goal may be to quit smoking," says Feldman. "The other person may not have a goal to quit, and that's okay too."
She adds that those who aren't ready to quit completely will find it easier to switch to vaping.
The Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers said that while vaping products have fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes , they still carry the risk of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) .
Can a ban on vaping increase illegal sales?
Feldman adds that if vaping products are banned from the market, they could be sold illegally.
"These tough measures, this ban on flavored vaping products will actually only lead to someone uncontrollably deciding to satisfy the needs of people who prefer flavored vaping products," he says.
He adds that banning flavored vaporizers to protect young people is a flawed approach that ignores the diversity of ages and races of people who use the harm reduction product. The emphasis on "what about the kids" tends to lead to emotion-based drug policies, he said.
Feldman faced a similar dilemma with other drugs in Philadelphia, where smoking is prohibited in the city's inpatient drug treatment facilities. This can create a barrier for people who smoke and also use substances like opioids, she says, as they may not want to quit to seek help or may leave the facility too early and challenge medical advice if they wish. feel bad. desire to smoke
Rather than ban e-cigarettes entirely, Feldman suggests limiting youth access to e-cigarettes and raising awareness of the risks.
Onuga agrees that banning products often encourages illegal production and sale. According to him, even without a ban, some kids can end up vaping in their garages.
"In the end, I think it should be banned," says Onuga. 'The problem is that [with] government policy, when it prohibits or restricts certain things, it creates a black market. So I leave this decision to the FDA on how they want to handle it. "
What does this mean to you
The FDA has rejected millions of marketing applications for vape products, but has delayed decision-making on applications from leading companies. Health experts say that vaping has the potential to help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, but it carries many health risks.