Vape flavor bans will drive more teens to smoke, another study suggests

AAs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nears the September deadline for deciding the legality of vaping products in the United States, abstinence-only advocates have doubled down on their message: ban flavors. Led largely by the influential Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) and Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes (PAVE), these organizations call for the ban whenever they get the chance.

On August 9, PAVE sent an email to its supporters, warning of a suspected risk of going back to school.

“As our children return to face-to-face learning, e-cigarette use may not seem like our biggest concern,” the post read, with an unintentional understatement. “But the youth vaping epidemic is raging, with nearly 4 million middle school and high school students vaping, the majority of them using flavors. Back among their peers, with the increase in anxiety fueled by COVID, children will have much easier access to these dangerous devices. “

There is growing evidence that banning the sale of flavored vaping products is causing smoking rates among young people ascend.

The group then asks you to click a button to send a pre-written message to the FDA, asking the agency to take flavored vaping products, including menthol, off the market.

Whatever the intentions behind it, this strategys successs seems to produce a consequence that thrills PAVE and its allies: There is growing evidence that banning the sale of flavored vaping products is actually causing smoking rates among young people. ascend. That is, teens react to bans by turning to much more harmful cigarettes. (Neither PAVE nor CTFK responded to Filteredrequests for comments by date of publication.)

Now a new study suggests that while “sales of vaping products were limited to tobacco flavors,” a third of U.S. vapers aged 18-34 sayI am going to stop smoking. The authors of the article, published in Nicotine and tobacco research, analyzed data from February to May 2020 – representing 2,159 young adults in Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, San Diego and Seattle – to examine support for restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes and the perceived impacts of flavor bans and outright bans on vaping.

Their findings should be an immediate cause for concern. Because just as the children of these fearful parents and activists return to the classroom, the FDA is expected to rule, by September 9, on the pre-market tobacco product (PMTA) applications of at least some manufacturers. vapers. Its decisions have the potential to create the conditions for a massive switch to smoking.

Even though heAs conjecture at this point, many tobacco control and public health experts suspect the FDA of authorizing certain products, dealing with larger companies first. With this approval comes the designation that these products are “appropriate for the protection of public health,” a clumsy phrase with incredible implications for the future of safer alternatives to nicotine in the United States: the approval would mean that the FDA has given the green light to these vapor-based products as being a trickle positive in terms of public health.

According to Dr. Charles Gardner, executive director of INNCO, a global nonprofit that supports the rights and well-being of adults who use safer nicotine, the looming FDA deadline will be “like watching a unstoppable object hitting a still wall ”.

“The FDA should know that flavor bans will increase smoking among teens, young adults and older adults,” he said. Filtered.

“In general, the FDA does not comment on specific studies, but assesses them as part of the body of evidence to deepen our understanding of a particular problem and to help us in our mission to protect public health,” said an FDA spokesperson. Filtered.

So far, it has been much easier for lobbyists and prohibition advocates to push for flavor bans at state and local levels, where they seem to wield much more power. Countless large cities—San Francisco and New York City, for example, have already banned the sale of flavored vaping products and a draconian policy seems to emerge in a different city every other day.

In addition to the recent Nicotine and tobacco research study, two similar articles have appeared in leading academic journals in the past few months: one study published in JAMA Pediatrics find WHEREAS as a result of San Francisco’s ban on flavored vapes and tobacco products, teens in city high schools were more likely to start smoking than those in other US school districts; The other, also in Nicotine and tobacco research, suggests that teens who vape would probably smoke cigarettes instead if vapes had never become available.

Despite this growing data, the FDA knows, Gardner said, that “Hell will break loose if they allow flavors as ‘appropriate for the protection of public health.’ “

The Truth Initiative and the Bloomberg-funded campaign for tobacco-free children have built their reputation on the public health benefits of flavor bans, ”he continued. “And many key leaders in the US Congress believe them. “

Photograph by Vaping360 via Flickr / Creative Commons 2.0

INNCO and The Influence Foundation, which operates Filtered, have received grants from the Smoke-Free Foundation.

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