The Trump administration announced earlier this month that regulators are working up new rules that would eliminate flavored vape products from the market. But some critics worry the forthcoming rules will be too weak and leave loopholes that the vaping industry could use to continue selling flavored nicotine products that minors prefer.
U.S. Senate minority leader Charles Schumer told amNew York over the weekend that there’s a “great worry” the vape industry will pressure the administration into leaving loopholes in the new rules. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to roll out the rules in the weeks ahead.
“In practice, these loopholes always have a way of expanding,” Sen. Schumer added.
While U.S. Food and Drug Administration Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless has says he is committed to ending the epidemic of youth vaping, his words and actions have lacked the teeth displayed by his predecessor, Scott Gottlieb.
In a statement updated Sept. 10, the day before the Trump Administration announced a ban on flavored vape products, Dr. Sharpless struck a more conciliatory tone, addressing the need to prevent nicotine addiction among children and teens but also underscoring vaping’s potential as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people trying to quit smoking.
After New York officials announced a state-wide ban on flavored vaping products, American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley issued a statement strongly defending the need for fruit and candy flavored vapes. He claims “a flavor ban will send a significant number of adult vapers back to smoking.” He also said “fruit and sweet flavors” help adult smokers “disconnect from the taste of smoking.”
New York’s emergency order banning all flavored vaping products except for tobacco and menthol is set to take effect Oct. 4.
However, Sen. Schumer asserts “sweet and fruity flavors such as bubble gum, cookies and cream, and gummy bear get teens hooked on nicotine and should simply be off the market,” according to amNew York.
“Those flavors shouldn’t be on shelves, and so the federal ban needs to be framed around that premise or it won’t be as effective, and it will easily circumvent local bans that states are proposing and passing,” Sen. Schumer said.
The federal ban will pull flavored vaping products from store shelves, but the products could return to market later if vape manufacturers can demonstrate to federal regulators that the products are safe and effective. Vape manufacturers have until May 2020 to apply for FDA certification of ingredient and packaging standards.
The ban was triggered partly by the growing youth vaping epidemic. Data shows that more and more kids and teens started using vaping products in 2019. But it also comes amid a nationwide outbreak of severe vaping-related lung illnesses that has sickened at least 805 people in 46 states and killed 12 people. Public health officials continue to investigate the outbreak but have not been able to link the illnesses to a specific ingredient or brand.