San Francisco made a bold move this week, voting to ban the sale and delivery of Juul and other e-cigarettes in its city. The mayor of San Francisco is expected to sign the proposed ban, which would then take effect in 2020. San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to embrace serious regulation of e-cigarettes, which has been compared to the Big Tobacco regulation fights of the not-so-distant past.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced plans to “restrict” sales locations for flavored e-cigarettes that appeal to youth. The restriction, which falls far short of a ban, will require sales to take place only in “age-restricted in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification.”
The restriction does not apply to menthol, mint, or tobacco flavors because, ostensibly, these appeal in greater percentages to adults. Even so, Gottlieb cites that 20% of kids, roughly 720,000, choose menthol flavoring for e-cigarettes and 54% of minors who smoke combustible cigarettes choose menthol as well. A full ban against similar flavorings, i.e., those that appeal to youth and young adults, was issued for tobacco cigarettes in 2009.
A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medical shows there is “substantial” evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of transitioning to smoking conventional cigarettes.
This is of particular concern for teens who are in the group with the highest number of users. This “gateway” effect should concern parents and users alike who believe e-cigarettes are different because they lack combustible elements.
Much of the hype from the vaping industry centers around the message that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Without data to disprove the claims, vaping advocates have widely and publicly blasted that message to users.
Now, however, more and more medical studies have been completed and the data is not supporting the “safer alternative” argument. In fact, new studies show that the dangers not only mirror those of traditional tobacco cigarettes, but also pose new dangers not seen in combustible cigarette use.
According to a FEMA and U.S. Fire Authority report on e-cigarette explosions released in July 2017, the “combination of an electronic cigarette with a lithium-ion is a new and unique hazard” in the U.S.
The FEMA report which evaluated e-cigarette explosions in the U.S. from 2009-2016, summarized, “There is no analogy among consumer products to the risk of a severe, acute injury presented by an e-cigarette” and incidences of injuries are likely to increase.
The vaping industry has largely ignored e-cigarette explosions with dismissive statements that users are using them incorrectly, using the wrong chargers, and basically responsible for any explosions that have occurred.
Despite recent pressure from the high-powered, tobacco-backed vaping industry, Australia recently ruled to keep nicotine-laden e-cigarettes illegal in its country.
E-Cigarettes with Nicotine Ruled Illegal in Australia
A leader in the fight against smoking, Australia classifies nicotine as a poison and has a ban on e-cigarette products that contain the substance. Vaping fluids that do not contain nicotine are allowed for sale in the country. Continue Reading Australia Classifies E-Cigarettes as Dangerous
In May 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a rule declaring that e-cigarettes should be regulated like other tobacco products. Through this rule, the FDA exercised its discretion to deem e-cigarettes to be “tobacco products” subject to the set of federal laws that govern the promotion and marketing of conventional cigarettes. The so-called “Deeming Rule” has been a major point of contention for vaping companies that argue e-cigarettes are not tobacco products and any regulations on e-cigarettes act like a ban that will destroy the industry.
Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the FDA’s authority to issue the rule. In Nicopure Labs, LLC v. FDA, consolidated with Right to Be Smoke-Free Coalition v. FDA, the plaintiffs challenged the rule. Nicopure claimed the rule violates its First Amendment rights because the rule’s restriction on modified-risk statements prohibits manufacturers from making truthful and non-misleading statements about their products. Likewise, Nicopure claimed that the ban on the distribution of free samples violates Nicopure’s right to free speech. Nicopure called for “disclaimers” for e-cigarettes rather than the strict tobacco-like regulations. The court declined that invitation, stating that “Permitting manufacturers to make unsubstantiated statements concerning modified risk tobacco products, whether express or implied, even if accompanied by disclaimers would be detrimental to the public health.”
While proponents continue to say that e-cigs are safe, a new study shows that e-cigs may be just as dangerous as regular cigarette smoking—with the added danger of explosions that can mutilate and disfigure teens and adults using the systems. The newest study measures five chemicals in e-cigarettes known to cause bladder cancer, including “nitrosamines” and formaldehyde. The chemicals are known to be ingredients in e-cigarette liquid. Continue Reading More Bad News About E-Cigarettes: Bladder Cancer
Is it time to regulate e-cigarettes just like tobacco?
Despite the growing base of literature on the dangers, e-cigarette and vaping use is on the rise, especially among young people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced tougher rules to treat e-cigarettes in much the same way as other tobacco products are regulated under the Tobacco Control Act of 2009. The biggest impact under the new rule is to ban sales to children. However, eight states—Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina Nevada, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming have taken a more affirmative step and enacted laws that categorize e-cigarettes as tobacco products. California recently joined the pack when Governor Brown signed into legislation a similar law designating e-cigarettes as tobacco products. In California this means that use is barred in many public and private places including at work, schools, and public transit areas. In addition, some local laws in California ban tobacco products from beaches and at entrances to private businesses, such as near hotel entrances. Under the new law, which goes into effect June 9th, all vaping products—including the candy-flavored liquids—must also be sold in childproof packaging. Brown also passed legislation upping the smoking age to 21 years.
As the e-cigarette industry has exploded over the last decade, regulation has yet to follow suit. However, in spite of the lack of formal regulation of the product, there is a growing trend to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in the same locations where smoking traditional cigarettes are prohibited. Iowa State University recently adopted this measure for their smoke-free campus. Previously, only cigarettes had been banned; however, the university recently took this ban a step further by including e-cigarettes.
Iowa State University first adopted its plan to become a smoke free university in July 2008. The goal was to reduce the amount of tobacco exposure to its students, faculty, and other individuals on campus. It also found that the smell of cigarettes posed a nuisance to those on campus. In 2010, the university noticed that there was a growing trend amongst its students, who were smoking e-cigarettes and thereby circumventing the ban. The university also noted that e-cigarettes had not been proven to be an effective method to quit smoking, but instead simply provided a different method to deliver nicotine into the body.
As a result of the risks associated with e-cigarettes, Iowa State University has enacted a ban on all e-cigarette products beginning on January 1, 2016. The university further noted that it hoped the policy change would bring awareness to the dangers posed by use of the e-cigarette products.
As acknowledged by Iowa State University, a shift from cigarettes to e-cigarettes only changes the mechanism of delivery of the nicotine associated with either product. Nicotine is still unsafe, which means that e-cigarettes will never truly be as “safe” as they advertise.
If you are injured as a result of an e-cigarette, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention and experienced legal counsel.