Will New FDA Strategy Be a Boon or a Bust for the E-Cig Industry?
We’ve known for eons that smoking tobacco is bad for your health. As much as our grandparents like to claim that way back when, they didn’t realize igniting something and inhaling the smoke could possibly be bad for them, I’m deeply suspicious of that claim.
Organizations like the FDA have been working for decades to educate the public, regulate new products, and keep young people from developing smoking habits. Over the years, we’ve seen educational advertising campaigns, increased size of warning labels on tobacco products, as well as a crackdown on tobacco company mascots like Camel Joe that were perceived as marketing cigarettes to kids.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
The latest strategy announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will likely be a blow to the tobacco industry while proving a double-edged sword to people in the e-cigarette and e-liquid industry. The USDA wants to make sure that the FDA can effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The organizations wish to strike a balance between regulating new products and making sure manufacturers have the freedom to develop “innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than cigarettes.”
Less dangerous than cigarettes? You read that right. It seems that even the FDA is coming around to the fact that many e-cigarettes are an infinitely better choice for those trying to break their tobacco habit.
“A Continuum of Risk”
In fact, part of the FDA’s new plan is to educate consumers that while all nicotine is highly addictive, the products through which it is delivered “represent a continuum of risk” and that nicotine “is more harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes.” This is according to the FDA’s own release on the new regulatory plan.
Cigarettes are “the only legal product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. He says that unless our society shifts course, as many as 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely from causes related to tobacco use.
Because e-cigarettes contain far less chemicals and toxins than combustible cigarettes, they fall on the least risky end of that continuum. In fact, e-cigarettes have been recognized as a much safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco-containing products.
Lowering Nicotine Levels
One of the regulations that will take effect will be a move to lower nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes. E-juice companies are already way ahead of the game on this, as they’ve been offering customized levels of nicotine in their e-juice for years. Perhaps the biggest benefit users experience when they switch from traditional to e-cigarettes is being able to choose their nicotine level, from a full-on buzz, a low level, or e-juice with only flavor and no nicotine at all.
The Fight Against Flavoring
The FDA’s overall plan is to take “meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive.” One of the FDA’s concerns is “kid-appealing flavors in e-cigarettes and cigars.” As part of their strategy, the FDA will issue ANPRMs in order to “seek public comment on the role that flavors (including menthol) in tobacco products play in attracting youth and may play in helping some smokers switch to potentially less harmful forms of nicotine delivery.”
While the FDA does seem to recognize that the appeal of e-cigarette flavors is what helps many combustible cigarette smokers switch to this healthier method, they also signal concern over the flavorings being potentially attractive to children. It’s unclear what regulations of the e-cigarette or e-juice industry may result from their investigation.
Safer Products and a Transparent Review Process
Overall, the FDA seems to be working towards safer products and an easier product review process for manufacturers. This will be a plus for consumers as well as makers of high-quality e-cigarette products and accessories. For example, the FDA plans to develop product standards to guard against known issues with the batteries in vaping devices. In addition to this, they’ve announced a plan to make the product review process “more efficient, predictable, and transparent for manufacturers.”
If the FDA continues as planned, it will hopefully support what the vaping community has known all along – that yes, nicotine is addictive, but vaping is a much safer and healthier choice than smoking combustible cigarettes. After years of myths and falsehoods surrounding the e-cig industry, it would truly be a wonderful turn of events to see a government entity like the FDA helping to educate consumers about the truth.