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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    State should follow FDA’s lead in the fight against vaping

    The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it had banned all merchandise sold by Juul Labs, Inc., a pioneer of reusable e-cigarettes. Its products allow users to swap out different flavored "pods" filled with nicotine “e-juice.” Unlike a cigarette, the battery-powered device produces vapor and, allegedly, does not contain dangerous chemicals found in its traditional counterpart. Once publicly considered a safer method of consuming nicotine for those trying to quit cigarettes, Juuls have been pinned as a catalyst for the teen vaping epidemic.

    Juul contested the FDA's conclusion that its toxicological reports did not satisfy regulations and submitted an appeal to a federal court. The court may or may not agree that teens shouldn’t be vaping, but, as of now, it is unwilling to approve an all-out embargo: The move to punish the company was temporarily blocked because of “scientific issues,” and to allow a review and investigation of the reports without halting all sales.

    E-cigarettes began to roll out in America in 2007, and Juul accelerated the vaping trend in 2017 when it popularized flavored pods. A rise in the enticing products brought with it a rise in teenage nicotine addiction, which poses serious health risks: delayed brain development, future dependencies, brutal withdrawals, and other mental health consequences. Nonetheless, vapes have remained highly accessible to both adults and adolescents.

    Realizing how rampant this issue has become, several states have pursued better policies that would put an end to nicotine addiction in children — banning Juul is one of their most assertive endeavors.

    Unfortunately, although the attempt at ensuring teens ditch the unhealthy habit is a positive step, it's debatable that targeting a single corporation will do much to dissuade teens from vaping — especially because many have already switched to brands with a wider array of choices. Puff Bar, Flum, Stig and thousands of other manufacturers make disposable flavored vapes that have rapidly garnered teenage interest, with 26% of young vapers preferring Puff Bars over Juuls. Ridding of a manufacturer that allegedly commenced this crisis years ago is unlikely to save juvenile vapers.

    However, further state efforts to curb teen vaping are promising. The Connecticut Senate took a stab at reducing e-cigarette accessibility and approved SB-367, legislation that would remove all flavored vapes being sold outside of a 21+ establishment — and that includes all brands, not just Juul. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, it will also prohibit devices with a nicotine content higher than 35 mg/ml. Ideally, deliberation would occur relatively early in the next session; the bill could potentially encourage other states to follow suit, strengthening the battle against teen-oriented marketing.

    The FDA's tentative ban on Juul is a favorable movement that proves the agency is bent on protecting teenage health. A more weighted, nationwide approach might be in order to have a substantial impact on the youth vaping issue; the state seems to be on the right track.

    The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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