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Vaping V Smoking: Why The FDA May Limit Access To Flavoured Vapes

Vaping V Smoking: Why The FDA May Limit Access To Flavoured Vapes

Vapes come in an increasingly wide range of flavours

Eduardo Munoz/Getty Images

Sales of flavoured vapes could soon be severely restricted in the US, ostensibly to protect young people from potential harm. While deterring teenagers from vaping may seem like a step in the right direction, many public health researchers worry that such a move could do more harm than good.

Nearly two-thirds of US adults perceive e-cigarettes as either more harmful or just as harmful as combustible cigarettes, according to survey results published this month by the American Cancer Society. Only 11 per cent believe e-cigarettes are less harmful.

While there is much we still don’t know about the potential risks of vapes, one thing is increasingly clear: “Vaping is dramatically better than cigarettes,” says Lynn Kozlowski at the University at Buffalo in New York.

Hyping the harms of e-cigarettes or banning the types of flavours that may broaden their appeal could seriously undermine their potential as tools to help people stop smoking. “As long as smokers believe that vaping is as dangerous or more dangerous than smoking, many of them are never going to try vaping to quit smoking,” says Kenneth Warner at the University of Michigan.

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How will the FDA regulate vapes?

On 14 April, a new law went into effect granting the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate all vape and e-cigarette products. Before that, the agency could only regulate products containing tobacco-derived nicotine. For those products, the FDA decided in January 2020 to prohibit all flavours except tobacco and menthol, citing evidence that these were the least likely to appeal to adolescents. Given such past decisions, the FDA is expected to further restrict the sale of…

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