In latest move to combat teen vaping, FDA takes on ‘one of the key reasons teens start vaping’

In this stock image, a young woman uses a vaping device | Photo by licsiren/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning to crack down on electronic cigarettes with several steps to combat vaping among teens and children.

Vaping devices, including a Juul device in the center, that were confiscated from students at a high school are displayed on a table in Marshfield, Massachusetts, April 10, 2018 | Associated Press photo by Steven Senne, St. George News

As early as next week, FDA officials said they plan on requiring strict limits on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, including age verification controls for online sales.

The FDA already bans sales of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to those under 18. In Utah, that age is 19.

The new FDA policy will apply to flavored cartridge-style vaping products like those made by Juul that have become popular among teens, not the open tank-style systems sold in vape shops and mostly used by adults, officials said. No retail outlets will be allowed to carry them unless it restricts minors from entering the store or creates an off-limits area.

The shift comes two months after the FDA called the problem of teen vaping an “epidemic” while ordering five major electronic cigarette manufacturers to reverse the trend or risk having their flavored vaping products pulled from the market.

Read more: Threatening to pull products, FDA calls teen vaping an ‘epidemic.’ How bad is it in Southern Utah?

Flavors like those based on bubblegum, cotton candy or colorful fruits are attractive to teens, so putting limits on flavored vape juices is a step in the right direction, said Kye Nordfelt, health promotions director for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

Vials of flavored liquid are sold at a store selling electronic cigarettes and related items in Los Angeles, Dec. 4, 2013 | Associated Press file photo by Reed Saxon, St. George News

“These flavors are sometimes flashy with bright colors or cartoon characters,” Nordfelt told St. George News. “One of the key reasons teens start vaping is because of these flavors, so I think the FDA is making a fantastic step.”

Juul, the nation’s leading e-cigarette maker, also recently announced it will be halting store sales of some flavors to deter use by teens.

In a statement, Juul said it stopped filling store orders Tuesday for mango, fruit, creme and cucumber pods and will resume sales only to retailers that scan IDs and take other steps to verify a buyer is at least 21.

All flavors will still be sold through its website.

“Obviously, Juul saw the writing on the wall,” Nordfelt said. “They knew they were going to have to do it eventually, so they just decided to start doing it now.”

The company also announced it would close its Facebook and Instagram social media accounts, and pledged other steps to make it clear that it doesn’t want kids using its e-cigarettes.

Its products are meant to help adult smokers quit regular cigarettes, CEO Kevin Burns said in a statement.

“We don’t want anyone who doesn’t smoke, or already use nicotine, to use Juul products,” Burns said. “We certainly don’t want youth using the product. It is bad for public health and it is bad for our mission.”

Members of the Washington County Youth Coalition meet at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department in St. George, Utah, Sept. 5, 2018 | File photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

Even though private companies and the government are starting to finally take some steps to fight the use of e-cigarettes among teens, Nordfelt said there is still much that can be done.

E-cigarettes are not taxed as heavily as tobacco products in Utah, which Nordfelt said is something that should be changed.

“We can tax e-cigarettes as a regular tobacco product,” he said. “If we do that, e-cigarettes won’t be as cheap and we’d see decreases in youth use as well. Teenagers are very price-sensitive, so we can price them out of the market.”

The Washington County Teen Coalition is also an important part of the fight against teen vaping in Southern Utah, Nordfelt said.

Read more: Classmates, family members on drugs compel Washington County teens to unite against substance abuse

The group comprises 25 high school students in Washington County who help educate their peers about the dangers of vaping and substance abuse.

“They’re continuing to work in classrooms in all the schools in Washington County to educate their peers on the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping,” Nordfelt said. “This week, they’re going into health classes to talk to students about this.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • NickDanger November 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Don’t forget, folks, the government is TERRIBLE at everything it does, but they are at their absolute worst when it comes to forcing harmful behavior.

    Let’s look at some of the substances they’ve criminalized and examine why the government solution is a hundred times worse than the problem ever was.

    1. Marijuana. I’m sure everyone who doesn’t live under a rock is informed about marijuana now. It’s an almost-completely harmless plant with numerous medicinal and textile uses. But since it is illegal – with no valid explanation given as to why – Americans who choose to use it anyway face a lifetime of failing employment drug screens, going to jail every time they get pulled over, and maintaining enough street cred (which is the exact opposite of “career cred”) to be able to purchase from street dealers.

    2. Heroin. I read an interview with Keith Richards once, in which he was talking about all the musicians he’s known who have died from heroin overdoses. He said – and I don’t remember the exact quote but I remember the meaning – he said it’s a shame that all those dead friends of his didn’t have his heroin connection. He said he had the same connection all along, and was able to manage his addiction because he always knew exactly what he was getting. Because heroin is illegal, all smack junkies must take their chances with street dealers who can basically sell them anything that looks like heroin. Then they die.

    3. Cocaine. This drug drives many people into poverty. They might be perfectly functional otherwise, I’ve known quite a few guys who had a casual, long-term cocaine habit but were still keeping their lives together for the most part. Unfortunately, because cocaine is illegal, this easy-to-grow plant creates an EXTREMELY expensive substance right out of Mother Earth. Thanks to the government’s nanny-like dabbling in our personal choices, a large number of people who could be normal, tax-paying citizens with a minor drug habit are instead poverty-stricken or in prison.

    I could go on. My point is that government action is the worst possible solution to the problem of addiction. It creates an entirely new set of problems for anyone who acquires a habit – the kind of problems that are much, much worse than the addiction itself.

    And I know vaping is just another delivery device for nicotine, and that it’s legal, and that all we’re really talking about here is age-restricting it. But let’s be frank – the end result of all this is going to be young people answering to the law, and most likely having their lives turned upside down because of a little thing like vaping. AS SOON AS the government tries to stick its institutional nose into matters of personal health and well-being is the time to nip it in the bud.

  • veekay1 November 14, 2018 at 9:10 am

    “We can tax e-cigarettes as a regular tobacco product,” he said. “If we do that, e-cigarettes won’t be as cheap and we’d see decreases in youth use as well. Teenagers are very price-sensitive, so we can price them out of the market.”

    Lol, thats one of the dumbest statements i’ve ever read. It’s an excuse to tax more, its always about making a buck. Goverment never does anything it cant profit from, they could care less about the youth! There good at making fake epidemics and panicking people! Smh

  • tazzman November 14, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Oh yeah, let’s tax it like a regular tobacco product so we “price teens out of the market.” Yeah genius, then you create an ILLICIT market, or black market, for the products.

    That will require more law enforcement and more dollars.

    Who are these fools that run our state?

  • Comment November 14, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Vaping is disgusting and these tweens do it because they have the mentality of sheep. The sheep will do what the heard is doing. I was at an outdoor concert recently and some clown was vaping some cotton candy flavored crap nearby, and I had to smell that disgusting trash for over 2 hours. For those who vape, please please just go back to smoking cigarettes!

    • KR567 November 14, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      I’m sure they didnt like sitting next to you either

  • Redbud November 14, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    I have a legit question if anyone’s willing to reply. Does breathing in the vapor from someone else vaping in the same room cause any harm? Is it considered 2nd hand smoke? Are there any harmful chemicals and/or particles? I’ve had someone who vapes tell me it’s perfectly safe for bystanders to inhale the vapor, and another person tell me it’s bad for a bystanders lungs. Just trying to get to the bottom of whether there’s any 2nd hand risk involved.

    • Comment November 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      There’s so much varieties of the crap people put into these vape machines that no one knows. Most of it comes over from China, and the stuff isn’t safety tested. So it’s anyone’s guess.

      • Comment November 15, 2018 at 9:54 pm

        I guess they could set up an experiment: who will get lung cancer first, a smoker or a “vaper”. It’s gonna take years and get no practical results b/c this vape crap comes in 1000s of varieties.

  • jaltair November 14, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    There is harm …. “However, scientific evidence indicates that the aerosol emitted by EVPs may expose nonusers, including children and infants, to aerosolized nicotine and other potentially harmful substances, including heavy metals, ultrafine particulates, and volatile organic compounds; thus, this aerosol is not as safe as clean air (3). The US Surgeon General has concluded that e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless and that it can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine (4). Animal and human studies found that fetal and adolescent nicotine exposure can result in adverse health effects, including impaired brain and lung development (4,5). Nicotine exposure during pregnancy could result in low birthweight, preterm delivery, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome (4). 

  • Brendon November 15, 2018 at 7:49 am

    “Actual” scientists in Europe and all over the world (that are not influenced by Big Tobacco and pharmaceutical BRIBERY) say otherwise. The second hand exposure of the vapor is relatively harmless (although I agree it can sometimes be annoying). But to tell someone to “go back to smoking” is downright moronic.

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