A draft of their Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking shows that they blame e-liquid flavors for a perceived youth interest in vaping

A recent draft published by the FDA has got vapers concerned over the future of e-liquid flavors. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), which is still unfinalized, appears to have the FDA changing their course when it comes to allowing a wide variety of flavors for e-liquids. They briefly mentioned that flavors might be critical to helping smokers quit, but most of their draft tried to blame them for teens eventually picking up smoking. It’s this fear that has led many public health officials to denounce the benefits of vaping as purely theoretical.

Making this move worse is the fact that the new FDA Commissioner had been appearing to loosen their stance on vaping. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was confirmed to the FDA leadership role in May, decided to delay the implementation of the controversial deeming rules in July. The rules, which were set to go into effect next year, have now been postponed until 2022, giving manufacturers more time to adjust to the new requirements. But with this new draft, the vaping community is worried that all of this good faith will go to waste if the FDA moves to ban e-liquid flavors.

The FDA’s Draft

To be clear, the version of the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that we’re discussing was just a draft, but it’s unlikely that much of the wording will change before it is finalized. That being the case, it’s clear that the FDA is attempting to shift the dialogue toward banning flavors, “Evidence shows that flavored tobacco products, especially those that are sweet or are described with terms attractive to kids, appeal to youth and also shows that youth may be more likely to initiate tobacco use with such products.”

But this isn’t the real story. In fact, very few peer-reviewed articles have indicated a clear and distinct connection between vaping flavors and teens picking up vaping. For instance, several studies have shown that the vast majority of teenage vapers had previously been smokers, meaning it’s not really putting the youth at risk. If anything it’s helping them in the same way it helps adult smokers quit cigarettes.

It’s nice that they at least acknowledge that these flavors are vital in helping some adults quit smoking, but it seems that it was more of an afterthought than an actual consideration. As a result, the FDA appears poised to ban e-liquid flavors, all in the name of children safety. Luckily, the FDA is required to have a period in which they allow the public to comment on policy changes. If they receive a strong enough response, it’s possible that it could save the future of vape flavors in America

Chance To Make Your Voice Heard

Once the FDA finalizes their Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, they will announce the public comment period in which anyone can voice their thoughts and feelings on the proposed changes. It’s entirely possible that if the vaping community generates enough of a response that this change could be abandoned altogether. This could very well be the most important opportunity the public has ever had to affect the course of vaping regulation in the US. No matter what ends up happening, it will have a major impact on the vaping industry as a whole. So why not help make it a good change instead of a negative one?

If we don’t do something, we could very well see a world in which the only e-liquid flavors available in America are tobacco and menthol. Shop owners and vape enthusiasts are anxious about this prospect, as it could prove to be a disaster for the entire independent vaping industry. If vaping flavors are restricted to only the flavors allowed for combustible cigarettes, then it would give big tobacco a great chance to steal a majority of the market, with people having less reason to make a switch. We need a strong response from the public if we hope to prevent this from happening.

What’s Next?

It’s very well understood just how bad smoking is for you and those around you. Given that it’s also becoming more agreed upon that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, you would think that the FDA would be trying to support e-cigarettes, not limit their effectiveness. But seemingly that is precisely what they are trying to do. Other studies have shown that vaping is not only an excellent smoking cessation tool, but it’s actually the best one we have. Not to mention that one of the most often referenced reasons for their effectiveness among vapers is the wide variety of flavors.

It’s entirely understandable why public health officials want to be cautious when it comes to something that could potentially put kids at risk, but these concerns have been proven to miss the real story. So it’s up to the vaping community at large to provide a serious response during the FDA’s public comment period. If we hope to keep vaping as a freely available and useful smoking cessation tool, there is simply no better way to help than telling the FDA that this would be a huge mistake.

Is it a good idea to limit the number of e-liquid flavors allowed by law? How much, if at all, should vaping flavors be regulated? Do you think the FDA will reconsider their stance if there is enough of a response? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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