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Due To The E-Cigarette ‘Epidemic’ US Restricts Its Flavours

E-cigarettes have been a divisive topic in the public health community.

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Customers puff on e-cigarettes at the Henley Vaporium in New York City. VOA
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration next week will issue a ban on the sale of fruit and candy flavored electronic cigarettes or e-cigarette in convenience stores and gas stations, an agency official said, in a move to counter a surge in teenage use of e-cigarettes.

The ban means only tobacco, mint and menthol flavors can be sold at these outlets, the agency official said, potentially dealing a major blow to Juul Labs Inc, the San Francisco-based market leader in vape devices.

The FDA also will introduce stricter age-verification requirements for online sales of e-cigarettes. The FDA’s planned restrictions, first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed to Reuters by the official, do not apply to vape shops or other specialty retail stores.

There has been mounting pressure for action after preliminary federal data showed teenage use had surged by more than 75 percent since last year, and the FDA has described it as an “epidemic.”

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In this April 11, 2018, photo, an unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school’s campus in Cambridge, Mass. Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine. VOA

Crackdown

“E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in September. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”

That growth has coincided with the rise of Juul, whose sales of vaping devices grew from 2.2 million in 2016 to 16.2 million devices last year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency threatened in September to ban Juul and four other leading e-cigarette products unless their makers took steps to prevent use by minors. The FDA gave Juul and four big tobacco companies 60 days to submit plans to curb underage use, a compliance period that is now ending.

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Packages of flavored liquids for e-cigarettes are seen displayed at a smoke shop in New York City. VOA

The planned restrictions on flavors in convenience stores are likely to have the biggest impact on Juul, which sells nicotine liquid pods in flavors such as mango, mint, fruit and creme, previously called creme brulee.

Juul competitors

The only other e-cigarette competitors sold at convenience stores are those marketed primarily by tobacco companies such as Altria Group Inc, British American Tobacco Plc, Imperial Brands Plc and Japan Tobacco Inc.

Those products, sold under the MarkTen, blu, Vuse and Logic brands, have lost market share as Juul has risen to prominence over the last year, growing from 13.6 percent of the U.S. e-cigarette market in early 2017 to nearly 75 percent now, according to a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen retail data.

E-cigarette products represent a small share of revenue for major tobacco companies, whereas Juul’s business is built entirely on the vaping devices. Revenue from e-cigarette devices made up less than 1 percent of British American Tobacco’s global revenue for the first six months of 2018, according to a company filing from July.

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E-cigarette additives impair lung function: Study. ( Image Source: https://ecigarettereviewed.com/)

Altria last month announced it would stop selling its pod-based electronic cigarettes, generally smaller devices that use pre-filled nicotine liquid cartridges, in response to the FDA’s concerns about teen usage. The company also said it would restrict flavors for its other e-cigarette products to tobacco, menthol and mint.

Representatives from Altria, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco did not respond to requests for comment Thursday evening. A Juul spokeswoman declined to comment.

The companies have previously said their products are intended for adult use and that they work to ensure retailers comply with the law.

Divisive products

Juul has previously said the company wants to be “part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people” but that “appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch.”

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Ban on e-cigarettes, Pixabay

Meredith Berkman, a founder of Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes, which seeks to curb underage use, said the agency’s move was a “good first step,” but added that “the final step should have happened yesterday.”

“Why not do away with flavors altogether, why not do away with online sales altogether?” she said.

Also Read: Smoking Habits May Harm Breastfeeding, Newborns At Risk

E-cigarettes have been a divisive topic in the public health community. Some focus on the potential for the products to shift lifelong smokers onto less harmful nicotine products, while others fear they risk drawing a new generation into nicotine addiction.

Last year the FDA, under Gottlieb, extended until 2022 a deadline for e-cigarette companies to comply with new federal rules on marketing and public health. (VOA)

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Are Mass Shootings The New Normal In The U.S?

Parents and teachers now have to have these conversations with kids who are in school.

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Video: Orange Rallies in US Honors Victims of Gun Violence. Pixabay

Caila Sanford rushed to donate blood as she wiped tears from her eyes. She started reliving a nightmare after hearing about the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Sanford, 22, survived the mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas just a year ago, where a gunman killed 58 people.

“This really hits home for me. I can imagine what these people are going through. I’ve been to this bar many, many times. I love college nights,” Sanders said.

It was college night at the Borderline when a gunman entered and opened fire, killing 12 people and then himself.

The shooter was identified as Ian David Long, 28, a former military machine gunner. He apparently killed himself after Wednesday’s attack.

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Caila Sanford survived the mass shooting during a Las Vegas concert last year. She never expected there would be a mass shooting so close to her home in California. She’s now afraid of going to places with a lot of people. VOA

It was the second U.S. mass shooting to make recent headlines. An attack Oct. 27 at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 people.

Researchers at the Gun Violence Archive said there has been a mass shooting in the United States nearly every day this year. The group defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are wounded or killed by gunfire, not including the shooter.

The frequency of mass shootings leaves some Americans numb.

“It doesn’t get easier to hear, but it gets more normalized. It’s desensitized completely,” Sanford said, adding, “I think twice about going anywhere, honestly. Not just here — the grocery store, the mall.”

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A bouquet left by mourners lies near the site of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. VOA

 

Parents worry that not even schools are safe. In May, a mass shooting at a school in Santa Fe, Texas, left 10 dead.

“We are living in a state of fear within our own country, within our own borders, amongst ourselves,” said Grace Fisher, a mother of three young children.

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Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian, left, embraces chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team as they pray near the site of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Nov. 9, 2018. Investigators continue to work to figure out why an ex-Marine opened fire Wednesday evening inside a Southern California country music bar, killing multiple people. VOA

Fisher went to the scene of the most recent shooting in Thousand Oaks with a sign that said, “Moms demand action for gun sense in America.”

She said U.S. society must find better ways to prevent such carnage.

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Grace Fisher is a mom who is fearful for her three children. She said something needs to change with regard to gun regulations. She lives in a neighborhood near Thousand Oaks, site of the most recent U.S. mass shooting. VOA

“I think that the problem in this country is multifaceted. It’s going to take a multifaceted approach to solve this problem, but to say that guns are not the problem is a total cop-out,” Fisher said.

Also Read: Video: Orange Rallies in US Honor Victims of Gun Violence

In addition to worrying about a test in school, students also have to think about an exit plan if they experience an active-shooter situation.

“Parents and teachers now have to have these conversations with kids who are in school. ‘What are you going to do if this happens? What is your plan? Where are you going to go?’ And they shouldn’t have to worry about that,” Sanford said. (VOA)