Banning E-Liquid Flavors – Will that Work to Curb Underage Vaping?
By Space Coast Daily // November 3, 2020
The last few months have seen the Trump administration and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) struggling with some tough decisions with regard to banning vape shops and outlets.
The authorities have been trying to find a middle ground that balances vaping as a nicotine replacement therapy option for adults against a growing health crisis – that of underage vaping.
Although the initial response to the alarming growth in teenage vaping was to ban vape stores, the solution may not really be a practical one.
Substandard Vaping Products Continue to be Available in the Black Market
Statistics released by the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that vaping among high school students has reached frightening proportions. At least 4.1 million high school students and 1.2 million middle school students are expected to have tried vaping products in the year 2020.
Rules curbing sales to users below 21 years (and, 18 years in some states) are in place and have been strictly enforced. Virtual or brick-and-mortar – all store owners must verify age before making sales. But, the need for tougher measures is obvious.
The problem is that the black market sells several low-quality e-liquids and devices containing harmful ingredients like Vitamin E acetate and THC oil.
Many of the brands are Chinese and make their way into American markets via illegal channels. Not only are the e-juices toxic but cheap plastics are used to make the mods that tend to degenerate and release poisonous chemicals when heated.
In states where cannabis and marijuana are legal, vaping mods are also used to inhale these drugs. Despite the stringent regulations imposed by the government, teenagers continue to purchase and use vape products.
The availability of pods and tank-based systems gives kids the option to play around with different e-liquids and flavors by mixing them and coming up with new customized versions.
Raising Awareness Against Underage Vaping is Highly Essential
The first step in the right direction would be for aggressive health awareness programs that educate youngsters about the dangers of vaping.
Parents must take the time to learn everything they can about disposables like Hydes, Puff Bar, and other Vape Brands at Blackout Vapors, and the warning signs indicating that their kids might have taken up vaping.
Schools and other educational institutions must talk openly about how e-liquids can affect developing brains, hearts, and lungs. Additional regulations like the ban of selling vape products within a particular radius around schools should be enforced.
Authorities Have Resorted to Banning E-Liquid Flavors
Banning e-liquid flavors like candy, tutti-frutti, desserts, spices, bubble gum, and fruits seems like a workable solution to curb underage vaping. The intention is to eliminate flavors that entice young people to indulge in the habit.
The delicious tastes are primarily the reason why most teens think that vaping is safe. Accordingly, all flavors aside from mint, menthol, and tobacco have been banned. The objective here to ensure that only adults looking to use vaping to quit smoking are likely to purchase and use the products.
Restricting Marketing Programs Targeting Underage Vaping
The administration has passed restrictions on all advertising and marketing programs used to promote vaping products. New regulations prohibit using any kind of images or messages that could potentially attract minors to try vaping.
Companies selling any kind of mods, pod-based systems, and e-juices must avoid any deceptive messages in their campaigns. And, that includes packaging that looks similar to products that kids enjoy like snacks, juice boxes, and cereals.
Several states have also passed laws and legislation to protect young people from exposure to vapes. All public spaces like airports, shopping centers, bars, offices, workplaces, and restaurants must restrict vaping only to designated smoking areas.
Flavor Restrictions Pertain Only to Disposables
In an effort to prevent underage vaping, licensed stores serving only adults are permitted to sell vape products. Advanced mods and tank-based devices will be available at specific locations only.
Specialty store owners may also have to show that not more than 10% of their inventory comprises cigars, cigarettes, and other tobacco products along with vaping supplies. Further, disposable vape pens and pre-filled nicotine cartridges are banned from gas stations and convenience stores.
Interestingly, though, conventional cigarettes that are possibly more harmful than vaping products and e-liquids, continue to be available.
The FDA Will Review All E-Cigarettes and E-Liquids
Starting in May 2020, the FDA will begin reviewing all e-cigarettes, vaping devices, and e-juices, and testing them for safety. Manufacturers must prove that their products are beneficial for public health to be allowed to continue to develop and sell them.
As long as the particular brands are not popular among kids, they can continue to remain on store shelves for up to 12 months even as they await FDA approval.
Once vape flavors pass FDA safety tests, they can be sold in the open market. However, lab procedures for getting FDA approval are not only time-consuming, but they are also expensive.
Most stores have instead opted to close down since each test costs around $117,000 to $466,000. Aside from actual safety tests, scientific reviews and advertising programs are also scrutinized.
The FDA also mandates the addition of a “Youth Action Prevention Plan” to each flavor to warn users of their potential dangers. Vape store owners are also concerned that the FDA may not be able to complete reviews soon since they already have a backlog of testing to complete.
How Will Potential Bans Affect Underage Vaping?
Although the authorities are taking steps to ban vaping and selling products without age verification, more effective efforts would be to educate youngsters about why they should avoid the activity.
Banning vaping might only result in users turning to illegal sources for getting the supplies they need. A wiser move would be to conduct extensive research and systematically eliminate harmful components from e-juices and e-liquids.
Permitting certified US manufacturers to make e-cigarettes using regulated methods and materials could be a more practical method to convert vaping into a low health risk activity.