This week’s roundup

It seems that smokers who hang out with vapers have a higher chance of ditching the tobacco and switching to vaping. We hear about the FDA’s plans regarding flavors, and we see one company, possibly a step ahead of the FDA, in a bid to cut them off at the pass?

First, smokers and vapers buddy up!

A study by University College London (UCL) found that smokers who have frequently spent time with vapers, who smoke e-cigarettes, (note to the journalist – that should be vape) were around 20% more likely to have made a recent attempt to quit and reported feeling motivated to stop smoking.

“Cancer Research UK’s tobacco control expert Kruti Shrotri said: “There hasn’t been much evidence about whether e-cigarettes might make smoking tobacco seem normal again.”  She added: “So it’s encouraging to see that mixing with people who vape is actually motivating smokers to quit. “As the number of people who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking rises, we hope that smokers who come into contact with them are spurred on to give up tobacco for good.”  So, if you are a smoker, and you hang out with vapers, seems there is more motivation to ditch the tobacco. There were 13000 participants in this study, it was funded by Cancer Research UK and published in a well-respected  academic journal.

Now to the FDA and flavors.

Several opinions abound regarding this. “The FDA is decreeing that the flavors teenagers tend to prefer can be sold only by vape shops, tobacconists, and online outlets with age verification. That rule is akin to prohibiting supermarkets and convenience stores from selling Mike's Hard Lemonade or Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails because you're worried that some cashiers will fail to card people who buy them.”

But is it?

Is this not a sensible plan?

Leave the professionals to sell the products, because it is in the professional’s own interest not to sell to teenagers?  Vape companies provide the goods, and we don’t want teens getting their hands on them, but we can’t police gas stations etc., but,  is this limiting availability and harming smokers that want to switch? 

Dr Siegal, prominent pro-e cig campaigner comes at it from an availability angle and asks why tobacco cigarettes are not being banned from sale from convenience stores, because due to the ammonia that is added to them, they are far more addictive than electronic cigarettes. He writes .....

So the rest of the story is that what the FDA's action is doing is to make it much more difficult for adults who have quit smoking to continue to stay smoke-free using their favorite brands of electronic cigarettes, which will be taken off the shelves. Youth will not be able to purchase flavored Juul products from stores, but that was going to happen anyway. The other e-cigarettes that are being sold at these stores (i.e., products other than Juul) have low nicotine addiction potential. It makes no sense to take them off the shelves but to allow real cigarettes, which have extremely high addiction potential, to remain available for sale and distribution to the 3,200 youth who try these products every day.”

What is your opinion on all of this?

This is what the A.G of Iowa had to say about the plans: Basically – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater:

  • FDA’s comprehensive strategy for nicotine has a clear long-term objective to protect young people from initiating with the most harmful products. But this strategy is highly contingent on the availability of appealing and effective alternatives to smoking. A hasty response that does not consider the harm reduction potential for adults could render FDA’s broader strategy inoperable.

While the FDA are deciding on the above and the experts are debating amongst themselves, JUUL have, some say, pre-empted the FDA by reducing the number of outlets that will sell their flavored pods.  “ The popular vaping brand Juul announced this week that it will discontinue a number of flavors and end social media accounts, at the same time acknowledging that a serious problem with young people using e-cigarettes has developed.”

Juul have put out a press announcement, stating:  

“We launched flavors like Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber as effective tools to help adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes, and we do not sell flavors like Gummy Bear or Cotton Candy, which are clearly targeted to kids. “However, we are sensitive to the concern articulated by Commissioner Gottlieb that flavors play an important role in driving the youth appeal,” and understand that products that appeal to adults also may appeal to youth.  As of this morning, we stopped accepting retail orders for our Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber JUUL pods to the over 90,000 retail stores that sell our product, including traditional tobacco retailers (e.g., convenience stores) and specialty vape shops. "

Those flavors mentioned will only be available online, where age verification is part of the checkout process, plus, an imposed limit on how much any one person can buy, which is two devices and fifteen pods per month.  The idea being that no one can bulk buy and then sell to teens.  

As for their social media, (where they have been very successful) that too is being shut down, and they will monitor 3rd party accounts that may promote their products.

It remains to be seen how these measures  will affect their business model, and the stats for teen vaping.