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Flavored Vape Ban Could Add Fuel to the Fire

It seems certain that the FDA will soon demand that flavored e-cigarettes be removed from store shelves. While the FDA has the power to permanently ban products, the likelihood is this will be a temporary ban giving companies the opportunity to meet public health criteria — such as proving that the flavor is necessary to help adult smokers quit and won’t prompt nonsmokers to try.

“We must act swiftly against flavored e-cigarette products that are especially attractive to children. Moreover, if we see a migration to tobacco-flavored products by kids, we will take additional steps to address youth use of these products,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. in a statement Monday. “We will continue to use the full scope of our regulatory authority thoughtfully and thoroughly to tackle this mounting public health crisis.”

Bipartisan voices in the Senate say a ban on flavored vapes is not enough, calling for tougher restrictions, including adding taxes on all e-cigarette products and having the FDA require that any approved e-cigarettes are tamper-proof so that users wouldn’t be able to add marijuana or other unregulated substances.

In embracing more restrictions, however, lawmakers are prompting some criticism that the flavor crackdown will inflame problems they’ve identified — and potentially worsen the outbreak of lung disease linked with vaping.

Michael Siegel, a public health professor at Boston University, predicted two outcomes as a result of the flavor ban. “No. 1, they are going to go to the black market to be able to continue vaping what they’re used to vaping,” he said. “No. 2, they are just going to give up and go back to smoking.”

He urged lawmakers to consider a way to keep more e-cigarettes on the market but have “meaningful regulation in terms of quality-control procedures and ingredient disclosures that companies have to follow.”

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