The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to announce a ban on mint, fruit, candy and dessert flavored vape cartridges this week, effectively leaving just menthol and tobacco flavored vapes on the market.
The new regulations take aim at the youth vaping epidemic, which has continued to grow in the U.S. despite previous efforts by federal, state and local governments to restrict youth access to vape products and raise awareness among youth about the dangers of vaping.
But critics say the new measures will do little to protect kids from falling into the clutches of the vaping industry.
Matt Myers, director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told CBS News that the FDA’s new regulations, which are expected be come as early as Friday, were dictated by the vaping industry. His group says 97% of kids who vape use flavored pods. Previous research has also shown that kids migrate to menthol and tobacco flavored vapes when they can’t get a hold of other flavors.
Mr. Meyers also said that half of all kids who start smoking regular tobacco products use menthol flavored cigarettes as a starter product.
The latest federal data shows that between 25% to 30% of U.S. teens vape, meaning that companies like JUUL and its major investor Altria have successfully created a new generation of nicotine addicts just when teen smoking rates had dropped to a historical low. The FDA’s new policies, full of concessions to the vaping industry, virtually guarantee its survival in the future.
Additionally, the FDA’s new regulations will allow vape shops to sell open-tank vaping systems, which allow users to create their own customized nicotine formulas using flavoring chemicals.
According to the Wall Street Journal, open-tank vaping devices aren’t as popular among kids and teens, who have mostly flocked to JUUL vapes and similar products with prefilled pods or cartridges. But that could change. YouTube and other websites are full of instructional videos demonstrating how to custom mix vape liquids. Several YouTube videos also show how JUUL users can refill disposable pods.
Critics also say the new measures, which some sources have called a compromise, simply prioritize economic concerns over the health of children and teens because they leave giant loopholes in place that will enable kids to keep vaping.
The new rules also don’t address how to prevent future outbreaks of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), which has sickened 2,561 people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also blames EVALI for the deaths of 55 people in 27 states and DC.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives.