Is FDA planning convenience store vape ban for next week?

Citing claims of teen vaping reaching nationwide epidemic levels nationwide, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is said to be planning the launch of a new vape ban as early as next week.  As first reported in the Washington Post (WP), the FDA is expected to announce a ban on the sales of flavored e-cigarettes through local convenience stores, gas stations, and similar venues.  The agency will also likely impose harsher age-verification regulations for e-commerce websites, too.

(Update: Wall Street Journal is reporting that the ban is likely to target only pod-style vapes like Juul. See next blog for more info)

Local brick-and-mortar vape shops will likely be excluded from the new regulatory actions. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has stated on several occasions his firm belief that these establishments are already working diligently to discourage teen vaping through effective ID verification procedures. During a recent interview on Politico's podcast Pulse Check, Gottlieb expressed fears that the popularity of flavored vape products like Juul is inspiring teenagers to substitute one form of nicotine addition for another.

"The bottom line is that we are creating a whole pool of kids addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes, some proportion of them are going to become longer term users of combustible tobacco that otherwise might never have initiated on tobacco," Gottlieb says.

Related Article:  FDA now targeting convenience stores in multi-prong plan to kill vaping

Vaping advocacy group and non-profit Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives (CASAA) is not yet commenting on the matter but issued a tweet on the evening of November 9 shortly after the pubishing of the WP article.   Since the WP cited anonymous sources from within the FDA, CASAA appears to be trying to substantiate the rumor before offering the vaping community further advice so as to possibly avoid unnecessary panic.

“IN THE NEWS: Possibly as soon as next week, the FDA is expected announce a convenience stores/gas station flavor ban and possibly regulate online sales. CASAA is waiting to hear how they plan to do this before officially commenting.”

Many within the vaping community feel as if FDA regulatory requirements against vaping make it much more difficult for adult smokers trying to quit.  Most novices to vaping begin their journey by purchasing a cheap cig-a-like device from the local 7-Eleven or other convenience stores.  If they find the experience even slightly effective in helping them to reduce their cigarette consumption, they tend to move on to more advanced technology found in local vape shops and e-commerce sites.  Banning these sales may prove detrimental for aspiring non-smokers.

What’s next in the FDA’s war on vaping

But not all e-cig advocacy groups are necessarily placing the biggest part of the blame for these constant threats of vaping and flavor bans squarely on the shoulders of the FDA.  National Public Radio (NPR) reports that at least one representative from the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (NVECA) feels that the Juul organization specifically has been “irresponsible” in its marketing strategies and may be hurting the entire adult vaping community in the process. 

“You get to a point where basically they're selling a product is like a lollipop," he says. Juul declined to comment.”
-NPR article FDA cracks down on e-cigarette sales to curb teen vaping

Related Article:  Marlboro maker Altria caves to FDA; stops selling flavored vapes

As early as next week, vaping enthusiasts may have a tougher time purchasing flavored vapes and e-liquids, but there is possibly more government regulation still to come.  FDA Chief Gottlieb has long made threats of banning all online sales of vaping products in the United States which would theoretically expand the regulatory ban to include vape mods, tanks, coils, and everything in between.

Gottlieb has also threatened to ban all menthol tobacco products which would include conventional combustible cigarettes as well as flavored vapes.  For right now, menthol-flavored e-liquids appear to be safe - but only because banning them while still allowing the sales of traditional menthol cigarettes would essentially reveal the FDA’s obvious bias towards Big Tobacco.

Related Article:  Altria stock prices climb after surrendering to FDA flavor ban

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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