The FDA Intends To Crack Down On E-Cigarettes
It’s no secret that tobacco companies try to target teenagers and, if they can, even younger customers. Even before the science of addiction was understood, companies knew that kids who started on their products young were much more likely to stick with them for life—a much shorter life thanks to all the smoke they were inhaling.
These days, we know that addiction, no matter what kind of addiction it is, affects the part of our brain that regulates pleasure. This effect can be permanent, which is what makes relapses so dangerous. On top of that, this part of the brain keeps developing until the early 20s, so any addiction a person experiences before then will be deeper and more permanent than one that takes hold in your 30s or 40s.
The E-Cigarette Problem
E-cigarettes, or vaping, has been an idea for years, but it’s only become practical for the wider market in the past decade or so. The idea is to take a liquid infused with nicotine and heat it up so it vaporizes as you breathe in. With the right mix of chemicals, the nicotine can hit your system as fast as it would in a cigarette, but the vapor won’t have the tar or carcinogens that come in the smoke. No bad breath, no yellow teeth, and no lung cancer.
The people who developed vaping devices intended them to be alternatives to things like nicotine patches and gum, a more effective way to quit smoking by stepping down your daily nicotine intake. However, that’s not the reason why vaping has taken off since 2007: it’s taken off because it’s become an alternative to smoking, not an alternative to quitting.
It’s true enough that vaping has advantages over smoking. There’s the lack of carcinogens and tar mentioned above, plus you can infuse the liquid nicotine with flavorings like cucumber and mint, flavors that couldn’t have gotten past the smell of the smoke (or past regulators). However, the chemical mix that comes with the nicotine includes some troubling ingredients, the flavorings have been approved for food and not for inhaling, and at the end of the day nicotine is still a highly addictive drug that can have a serious impact on your wallet and your social life.
Thinking Of The Kids
The leading vaping company, Juul, is very careful about what it does and doesn’t do since the company heads are aware of how many people are watching them. However, their competition isn’t as guarded, and many of these competitors are wholly owned by the big tobacco companies. Thanks to loose or absent regulations surrounding vaping, they’re selling vaping products designed to appeal to kids.
The liquid nicotine refills sold by these companies come in colorful packages, and they lean heavily towards the sweet flavors kids love. Some companies get even more blatant than that by coming in packages that look like familiar cookie and candy boxes, and one company’s gimmick happens to be giving a free old-fashioned lollipop with every nicotine refill.
Obviously, this is a problem, and it seems to be working since vaping is catching on at every school that has students that can afford the expensive products. The FDA is attempting to crack down on the companies targeting kids, but health organizations are suing them for not acting fast enough.
Some companies are also facing tort lawsuits from individuals. Nicotine is a hazardous chemical along with being an addictive drug, and now that the FDA is classifying vaping products as tobacco these companies can get in a lot of trouble by targeting kids. Some familiar-looking packages can fool kids or even adults who don’t know better, and if this similarity is deliberate it opens these companies up to false advertising and product liability lawsuits.