The Strategist

USA to ban e-cigarettes

01/21/2019 - 11:34

The US authorities do not rule out a ban on e-cigarettes and vape pens due to their growing popularity among young people, said Head of the Office for the Control of the Quality of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States Scott Gottlieb.

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“I am very concerned that we are at this crossroads today. In recent years, as it seemed, we managed to defeat one of the most harmful threats to public health - smoking cigarettes... But, unfortunately, the progress achieved was undermined and even erased by a serious increase in the number of young vapers lately,” said Gottlieb at the FDA meeting in Maryland.

The US authorities have long been actively fighting tobacco smoking and, as it seemed, defeated the bad habit. By the end of 2017, the percentage of smokers in the country reached a historical minimum - only 14% of adults smoked a cigarette per day or every few days. During a large-scale tobacco refusal campaign, electronic cigarettes were chosen as one of the weapons in the war. It was believed that they should help smokers gradually get rid of nicotine addiction, although there is no scientific evidence that they really help to quit smoking.

However, a new problem has emerged. Young people are massively addicted to electronic cigarettes, and began to move on to smoking tobacco after using them.

Mr. Gottlieb said that dangers of electronic cigarettes have been fully proven. Now the regulator does not exclude a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes in the country.

In his speech, Head of the FDA relied on data from the November study, according to which the number of middle and high school students who smoke electronic cigarettes has more than doubled over the last year - from 1.5 million to 3.6 million people.

Now every fifth high school student is a vaper (+ 78% compared with 2017). In addition, high school students began to use electronic cigarettes more often: the proportion of those who vape more than 20 times a month increased from 20% to 27.7%. But most importantly, the popularity of electronic cigarettes led to a rapid increase in the number of tobacco smokers among young people. A year ago, 27.1% of high school students smoked ordinary cigarettes, but now their share is already 38%. Even more frightening is the trend among middle school students - from 7.2% to 29%.

“I believed in July 2017, and still believe, that e-cigarettes are an important opportunity for adult smokers to get rid of tobacco products and switch to products containing nicotine, but not carrying the same level of health risk,” said Gottlieb. Unfortunately, a national study of smoking among young people confirms that use of electronic cigarettes among young people has reached the epidemic scale... I am afraid that over the next year the research will confirm further growth in the use of e-cigarettes. If the trend continues, if we see a significant increase in indicators in 2019 in addition to the rapid increase in the indicator in 2018, then this entire category of goods will have to face the threat of a ban.”

In November last year, the FDA already took a number of measures to combat the growing number of smokers among young people. Thus, the administration intends to accelerate introduction of restrictions on sales of flavored e-cigarettes to minors both in regular stores and online, and also to begin preparations for a total ban on the use of menthol in regular cigarettes and flavors in cigars. In addition, the FDA intends to seek removal of smoking products from sales, which advertising makes it attractive to young people.