There has been incredible scrutiny of the e-cigarette industry this year, largely caused by an epidemic of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI) cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been nearly 2,300 EVALI cases in the US so far and more than 47 people have died due to this lung disease.
When these cases first began, regulators could not pinpoint what was causing the illnesses. In response to the problem, and a heightened awareness that children were being targeted by e-cigarette companies, the Trump administration pledged to ban the sale of flavored vaping products. However, the administration has since backed off of that pledge. A ban on flavored e-cigarette and vaping products does not seem likely in the near future.
Why would a flavor ban matter?
For decades, the number of younger adults and teens who smoked traditional cigarettes dropped to all-time lows. This was a success in the eyes of federal regulators. However, over the last few years, the use of e-cigarettes among teens has surged. Studies have shown this is in large part due to the use of flavors in the vape juices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 81% of young e-cigarette users claimed their main reason for using vape products was the availability of flavors. Some of the most commonly used flavors include:
- Fruit varieties
- Cotton candy
The flavors are what draws kids in, and the nicotine keeps them hooked. Many e-cigarette brands, led by Juul, have a 5% concentration of nicotine in their vape products. Nicotine use in younger people can slow brain development, alter their nerve cells, and increase their risk of other diseases.
Why did the flavor ban fall through?
In September, in response to the growing e-cigarette illness crisis, President Trump said from the Oval Office that, “We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected.”
In the months since, federal regulators have determined that the cause of many of the EVALI cases was vitamin E acetate used in off-the-market products containing THC. This, along with pressure from e-cigarette users and companies, has caused the president to back off of his vape ban promise. The president said he feared a flavor prohibition would lead to job losses. He also claimed that a flavor ban would only increase counterfeit e-cigarette vape cartridges that would be less safe than those sold by companies.
What will happen now?
Supporters of banning vape flavors are now turning to state leaders to take action. Many states are moving to ban flavored e-cigarettes from their shelves. Massachusetts is working on a flavor ban, as is New York City.
Across the country, more than one if four high schoolers use e-cigarettes. The most popular flavors are fruit, mint, and menthol, with more than 60% of teens who vape claiming to use those flavors.
Bryte Johnson, the director of government relations for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network says that “There’s no need for flavoring. We shouldn’t be making these products enticing.” He says that flavors are the number one culprit of young people using e-cigarettes, and the ban on flavors is an easy, common-sense choice. If you or a loved one has been affected by e-cigarette illness, don’t hesitate to contact an e-cigarette vaping illness lawyer at our Southern California law firm.