Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is warning about an alleged vaping “epidemic” among teens, calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to crack down on vapor devices and flavors.
At a press conference in New York City Sunday, the Senate minority leader said the FDA must act to regulate the vapor industry to protect children from allegedly enticing flavors like creme brulee. He suggested e-cigarette manufacturers are intentionally marketing their products towards youths, and went as far as calling teen experimentation with vaping a societal “epidemic,” reports the New York Post.
Schumer specifically directed his criticism at the JUUL e-cigarette, a brand proving immensely popular with adult smokers attempting to quit combustible tobacco. He claims flavor options among vape brands are luring teens into a destructive habit.
“The craze among kids for e-cig flavors that resemble whipped cream, candy and cookies is not only a bad trend, it is a recipe for disaster that is fueling an outright addiction that appears to be getting worse, not better,” said Schumer, according to the New York Post. “It is high time to ramp up the pressure on and by the FDA so quicker action to rid the marketplace of kid-friendly e-cig flavors is taken. New York kids are in a flavor trap and it’s becoming a real epidemic now.”
A large amount of teens are experimenting with e-cigarettes, however, teen smoking is declining to historic lows. A recent study, by renowned tobacco researchers Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Greece and Dr. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania in Italy, found regular use of electronic cigarettes is “rare” among youths who do not smoke.
Hysteria built around teen experimentation actively ignores the positive impact vaping is having on smoking prevalence in the U.S. and around the world.
The adult smoking rate in the U.S. fell from 15.8 percent in 2016 to 14.1 percent over the first nine months of 2017 — a significant decline that many argue vapor products are accelerating. (RELATED: A Majority Of Adults Still Falsely Believe Nicotine Fuels Tobacco Cancer)
The quit rate of American smokers jumped from 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to a University of California study released July 26, 2017 — a statistically significant increase attributed to growing vaping popularity.
A recent analysis by researchers at Citi, which used data from Nielsen, argues a sharp acceleration in sales for JUUL in the fourth quarter of 2017 is directly responsible for a six percent decline in U.S. cigarette volumes in the first quarter of 2018.
It also appears flavors are key to the popularity of vaping among adults, as they help smokers dissociate with the taste of tobacco and ultimately quit. Calling on the FDA to halt the sale of flavored products risks upending the vapor industry and hurting smokers who have successfully quit with e-cigarettes, while doing little to address teen access.
Millions of former adult smokers in the U.S. are embracing the positive science on vaping and using the harm reduction tools to quit combustible cigarettes.
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