FDA is imposing new regulations on the e-cigarette industry to protect minors from becoming addicted
by Daniel Fidanque
A Juul is a sleek device that is hard to spot, and can be discretely used in classrooms, movie theaters, and other public places, which attracts students who want to take the edge off. The company’s marketing initially began with adults, but because of its hip flavors such as Mint, Mango, Fruit Medley, Methanol, and Creme Brulee, experts believe that minors have become frequent users of this damaging device.
Juuls have become increasingly popular over the past few years and have created a vaping epidemic among minors in the U.S. Almost everyone at Fordham has a Juul or knows someone that Juul. Currently Juul controls 72 percent of the e-cigarette market in the U.S., according to CNBC. The company is on track to earn at least $1 billion in revenue this year. Because of this rising concern, the Food and Drug Administration has given Juul 60 days to prove that they can keep Juuls away from minors. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb is requiring companies such as Juul to change their sales and marketing practices. The commissioner is also trying to ban flavored e-cigarette products from the market. Dr. Gottlieb and the FDA have been cracking down on e-cigarette manufacturers and sellers, including launching undercover sting operations targeting mostly Juul retailers who sell to teens.
The FDA is launching this investigation because they believe Juuling and vaping contribute to a large public health concern that has been around forever: smoking. Smoking kills about half a million people each year from related cancers and illnesses. While Juuls and other e-cigarettes hold less toxic chemicals than a regular cigarette, the amount of nicotine in a Juul “pod” is enough to make a user addicted. This fact is concerning because many Juul users are minors. At this point in a human’s life the brain and body are still developing and getting addicted to nicotine can be threatening to these changes in the body. Some critics of Juuls say that many parts of the Juul and its vapor release system have not yet been studied and could create a larger problem. One Juul pod is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, but public health experts are not aware of the long-term chemical effects on the human body. However, a Juul has always been a device aimed at reducing adult nicotine addiction. If Juuls and flavored e-cigarettes are banned, there will be fewer alternatives for the initial consumer, previous cigarette users.
Besides banning flavors, Gottlieb and the FDA are also planning to stop the sale of e cigarette components online, since supposedly many kids stock up their Juul pods by buying in bulk because it is also cost efficient. In a recent interview, the founders of the Juul, who met while at Stanford University, said that they would more likely than not agree to give the rights of the Juul to a larger tobacco company since their company doesn’t only revolve around the Juul, but instead around a new industry, weed.
Co-founder James Monsees responded to this concern from the FDA, saying that he is willing to remove flavors, but “has not seen evidence that there’s causation necessarily for flavors being a lead-in for underage consumers. Cigarettes have been a major problem for underage consumers for some time.” This got me thinking that he does have a really good point since cigarettes have a distinct flavor and to end smoking you need to transition as far away from that flavor as possible. Juul pod flavors were meant to lead smokers away from things that remind them of smoking. However, the product indirectly attracted new users. In reality smoking has been around for many years, but due to rising concern and investments into children’s lives, parents actually give a shit now.
Even if Juuls become extinct because of new FDA regulations, the company has over 100 patents to its name with the ultimate goal of eliminating smoking from “the face of the earth” according to Monsees. I am really interested to see how they implement this goal and what their next step is to ending this epidemic because smoking is a cause of death that is preventable.