The federal government is about to crack down on buying and owning flavored electronic cigarettes in the U.S.
Next week, the FDA will announce a plan that will ban closed-system flavored e-cigarettes at “tens of thousands” of convenience stores and gas stations across the country, along with requiring age verification for purchasing one online, according to a report from Thursday in the Washington Post.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is reportedly introducing the restrictions over concerns that e-cigarette usage increased by 77 percent among teens in high school and almost 50 percent in middle school students during 2018, the Post reports. Flavored, closed-system e-cigarettes with mint and menthol will still be allowed in convenience stores, although the FDA “may extend the sales restriction to those flavors if teen vaping doesn’t decline,” senior FDA officials told the Post.
“We now have evidence that a new generation is being addicted to nicotine, and we can’t tolerate that,” Gottlieb told the Post.
Closed-system vape pens are affordable and easy-to-use devices that simply require a flavored cartridge pod with liquid pre-loaded. They’re incredibly popular among teens and adults alike, with Juul, a closed-system vape pen manufacturer, controlling 70.5 percent of the entire e-cigarette market, according to Hail Mary Jane.
Granted, Juuls aren’t going away in their entirety: shoppers can still purchase closed-system pens from smoke shops. The crackdown seems focused on preventing teens from accessing Juuls and other closed-system vape pens at convenience stores, whereas the FDA believes smoke shops are more responsible about verifying customers’ ages.
Twitter is evidently torn on the new rules. Some fear the FDA’s regulations are too strong and are thus responding in a rational and appropriate manner.
We all know this is BS. It’s past time to get off the couch and fight for your rights. When they come take your vape, what will you do? https://t.co/81eoNiH9D1— Jack Varnell (@jackvarnell) November 9, 2018
Nothing says enlightened society like the government banning things.— Robson (@logicalrebel) November 9, 2018
Yes Mommy, thank you for saving me from myself https://t.co/NEZZBzMNIa— Charles Burnette (@ReaganRebellion) November 9, 2018
Great point. If JUUL/flavored ecigs go away, Altria and Reynolds/BAT stocks go up up up. Every anti-vaping move by FDA has helped tobacco stocks. https://t.co/abXdwwkH9G— Paul Blair (@gopaulblair) November 9, 2018
And this is how the black market was formed— Mac (@glasscannonn) November 9, 2018
So vaping laws are stricter than gun laws? Unbelievable— Catherine Rose (@CiaoBerra) November 9, 2018
Others hate vaping and want to see Juuls go.
This morning's second ray of sunshine… https://t.co/vC5RhnAESc— Aimee V. Lerman (@aimeevlerman) November 9, 2018
This came too late for my kid, who decided e-cigs must be ok, because there was no regulation. Cotton-candy flavored nicotine extract, widely available / pushed to high school student athletes as a performance enhancer.— Pat Donaldson (@ptdnldsn) November 9, 2018
Yes, encouraging kids to not inhale flavored liquid nicotine is soooo terrible pic.twitter.com/GYUAZ4SDhJ— Mosey (@thegreatmosey) November 9, 2018
A few pointed out that Juuls and other closed-system pens are commonly used by smokers that want to kick the habit and plan to gradually ease off regular cigarettes.
So, anecdotally, I know a TON of former smokers who vape to mitigate the harm of nicotine addiction. Since stores still sell hard cider, cotton candy flavored vodka, and weed candy, this flavor ban is bullshit. https://t.co/9A5uVosR6s— Jim Craner (@jimcraner) November 9, 2018
Yeah, this is a real problem to be worried about right now 😒Vaping is helping me quit, actually. I've significantly cut down on my smoking. Fuck this. https://t.co/WoLZ8PmdSL— SunnyJones (@SunnyJo99380280) November 9, 2018
Noooo don’t make me go back to cigs 😢 https://t.co/Y9bUE2S3l8— Paulo Becker (@PDBecker) November 9, 2018
Then there’s the rest of Twitter that just loves watching the vape community burn.
All of Nolita just screamed https://t.co/v9RPeDxVpd— John Jannuzzi (@johnjannuzzi) November 9, 2018
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In the meantime, open-system vape pens are becoming increasingly popular to smoke weed. A 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey found one out of 11 students surveyed tried a vape pen with marijuana, THC, hash oil, or THC wax in the cartridge, The Verge reports. Expanding that statistic to the national U.S. population means over 2 million youth have used a vape pen to smoke weed at one point or another. It remains unclear for now if the FDA is interested in regulating marijuana usage with open-system vape pens.