E-Cigarettes: Facts and New Regulations By: Jennifer Stanger

09/11/2017
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There has been a lot of controversy in the media recently over the use and distribution of e-cigarettes, more specifically, the growing number of adolescents “vaping.” The social acceptability of e-cigarettes among adolescents has far exceeded traditional cigarettes. This acceptability has lead to an increase in the use of e-cigarettes among young people. According to the CDC there was a significant increase in high school students that use e-cigarettes from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2015. Since the 1990’s there has been a steady decline in adolescent tobacco use, but e-cigarettes appear to be an entirely new monster which is demonstrated by the overall nicotine use for adolescents to be similar to the rates in 1995 (1). It has also been found that adolescents that vape are more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes than those that do not use e-cigarettes (2).

Many people say that there is no way the health effects of e-cigarettes compare to those of regular cigarettes, which may or may not be true. Harm reduction, right? But the reality is that we really don’t know what the long term adverse effects of e-cigarettes are.

The FDA has acknowledged this significant increase and in 2016 made changes that will significantly limit the amount of e-cigarette products available for consumption. These federal changes make any product that is on the market undergo a lengthy and expensive approval by the FDA. Also, starting August 8, 2016 no new e-cigarette products can be released unless they have undergone the lengthy application process. This includes any minor changes to already released products. Many small smoke shops that create their own products will close as a result of the high cost of the application process. The cost of the application process varies by product, but Forbes estimated that each application costs from $182,000 to $2.6 million depending on what is getting evaluated (3). E-cigarette manufacturers are able to sell their non-evaluated products until August of 2018, but after that their products must be taken off of the market until they are approved by the FDA.

The FDA hopes that by regulating the use of e-cigarettes fewer adolescents will have access to them. However, these can potentially cause smokers to return to tobacco cigarettes if they do not have access to e-cigarettes (3). Only time will tell what will happen to e-cigarettes and nicotine use once these regulations are in full swing.

1. Peachman, Rachel. “More Nonsmoking Teens Inhaling Flavored Nicotine Through Vaping.” New York Times. July 11, 2016. Retrieved on 10/25/16 from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/e-cigarettes-expand-teenage-nicotine-use-rather-than-replacing-it/

2. Mangan, Dan. “Are e-cigs the new ‘gateway’ drug to … real cigarettes?” CNBC. September 8, 2015. Retrieved on 10/23/16 from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/08/are-e-cigs-the-new-gateway-drug-to-real-cigarettes.html

3. Sullum, Jacob. “FDA Assigns Zero Value To Smokers Who Die Because Of Its E-Cigarette Regulations.” Forbes. August 11, 2016. Retrieved on 10/23/16 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2016/08/11/fda-assigns-zero-value-to-smokers-who-die-because-of-its-e-cigarette-regulations/2/#1fd9000e2e42

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