On September 11, 2019, the Trump Administration announced plans to ban all flavored e-cigarettes as a means of combating the vaping related illness outbreak. The announcement is facing a mixture of support and skepticism. Supporters are not surprised with states like Michigan already banning flavored e-cigarettes.
In a press conference, President Trump discussed his and the First Lady’s concerns about their own teenage son and others like him who may be tempted to vape. About the ban, Trump said:
“We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected.”
The proposed ban is in response to health officials calling on the government for restrictions and more regulation of e-cigarette products. Currently, the vaping related illness outbreak is worsening, with more than 500 lung illnesses reported across 22 states. Six deaths have also been linked to the illness, and doctors are still searching for answers.
There are also over 100 reports of neurological side effects from vaping, including seizures, tremors, and fainting. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are facing intense scrutiny as more and more patients come forward. The exact cause of the illness outbreak is highly speculative, and opinions vary widely.
Skepticism Amid Vaping Related Illness Outbreak
Many contend that the Trump Administration’s effort to ban flavored e-cigarettes is the wrong solution to the wrong problem. Yes, youth vaping and nicotine addiction is a real problem, but right now, the outbreak of deadly lung illnesses has no ties to the flavoring or marketing.
Banning flavored e-cigarettes is not likely to stop the outbreak. Doctors believe that the cause of the outbreak is ingredients in the liquid pods, including Vitamin E Acetate and other chemicals and compounds. Some of these dangerous ingredients are found in commercial products, and some are found in black market or street products.
CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta points out that there may be a contaminant in certain lots of e-cigarettes or the liquid pods. He also points out that many of the people who are sick report vaping liquid containing THC. Some reports include home brews or alterations to the liquid pods. Again, it is still a matter of speculation as doctors, the FDA, and the CDC continue to search for answers.
The Youth Vaping Problem
The youth vaping problem is gaining attention partially because of the vaping related illness outbreak. But it is also gaining attention because of concerns that companies like JUUL are marketing their products to children and teenagers. JUUL specifically has come under fire for two reasons.
JUUL Under Fire: Reason Number One
It is well known that JUUL markets their products as being a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Last week, the FDA ruled that JUUL’s marketing is illegal and in violation of federal guidelines. The FDA regulates products that are labeled and marketed as being a “healthier” or “safer” alternative to another product.
JUUL did not get FDA approval to market their products as being safer. Furthermore, there is no evidence that JUUL vape products are, in fact, safer than cigarettes. To the contrary, JUUL liquid vape pods may actually be even more harmful because of the ingredients. Consider the following:
- JUUL vape pods contain enough nicotine in a single pod to equal an entire pack of cigarettes.
- Liquid vape pods contain harmful chemicals that can cause injury to skin and eyes.
- A teaspoon of e-cigarette liquid can be fatal if swallowed by a toddler.
Yale Researchers Find Alarming Chemical Reactions
Yale researchers found that chemical reactions in JUUL pods create chemicals that are irritating to the lungs. These chemicals are not on the package, so consumers have no way of knowing what they are inhaling.
According to researchers, one of the most alarming chemicals is vanillin – a flavoring chemical. Vanillin is banned for use in cigarettes, but not banned for e-cigarettes. When the vanillin in the liquid reacts to the glycerol, it creates acetals – chemicals which are harmful.
Researchers found that 60-70 percent of the acetals in the liquid transferred to the vapor. In some tests, the level of acetals reached close to safety limits in workplaces where employees may be exposed. Examples include bakeries, where flavoring chemicals may be used.
Researchers recommend a review of e-cigarette regulations. Consumers cannot rely on a simple ingredient list when toxic compounds are created by using the product. Yale researchers recommend better regulations for flavoring, menthol, nicotine, and health effects.
JUUL Under Fire: Reason Number Two
The second reason why JUUL is under fire is because of its marketing tactics toward youth and children. Young people are easy to influence through marketing on social media, especially marketing that promises an easy way to hide what you are doing. JUUL markets its products as being safe and discreet, and marketing suggests that the device is easy to disguise as a school or office USB device.
Their marketing tactics seem to be successful. In 2018, over 3.6 million students in middle and high school reported using e-cigarettes. That is an increase of 1.5 million students since 2017. Why the increase? Research shows that flavors are a key part of why teenagers vape.
JUUL markets flavors like mango, mint, cucumber, and crème. Among teenagers who use JUUL, 33 percent report doing so because of the flavors. To further highlight their successful marketing strategies, JUUL is one of the leading e-cigarette products, comprising more than 70 percent of the market in the U.S.
For any skeptical about whether JUUL intentionally marketed to teenagers, consider the fact that JUUL representatives have given presentations in schools. When the FDA discovered that JUUL was illegally marketing their products as safer, they also investigated claims of marketing to teenagers. What they found is more than alarming.
FDA Discloses Alarming Evidence
According to the FDA, in at least one instance, a JUUL representative gave a presentation to school students without parental consent, or a teacher being present. In the presentation, the representative made claims including:
- “FDA was about to come out and say it [JUUL] was 99% safer than cigarettes… and that… would happen very soon…”
- That JUUL is “totally safe.”
- That JUUL is “much safer than cigarettes.”
- That “the FDA would approve it any day.”
The response to this finding has been outrage. A Congressional hearing in July titled “Examining JUUL’s Role in the Youth Nicotine Epidemic” notes the following:
“[T]hat testimony revealed JUUL engaged in a wide variety of promotional activities and outreach efforts to persuade potential customers, including youth, to use JUUL products…” “Witnesses testified, for example, that JUUL advertising saturated social media channels frequented by underage teens and that JUUL used influencers and discount coupons to attract new customers.”
How Parents Can Prevent Vaping Related Illness
Health experts are extremely concerned about the impact of vaping on children and teenagers. The human brain does not stop developing until around the age of 25. That means that the younger kids are when they start vaping, the more damage they can do to their brain.
Research already shows that using nicotine can impede brain development and cause neurological issues. Now with vaping, kids are also at risk for vaping related illness including respiratory illness, nicotine toxicity, and more.
Parents can help prevent their kids from becoming a victim of the vaping related illness outbreak by doing the following:
- Watch for Signs of Vaping: Kids can easily hide vaping, especially with products like JUUL that look like a standard technology device. Parents should be mindful of signs of vaping like:
- Kids taking their “USB devices” with them everywhere
- Kids spending more money than usual without explanation
- Physical signs like dry mouth, nosebleeds, tremors, or unusual behavior
- Difficulty sleeping
- Avoid Cold Turkey: If you catch your child vaping and find out they are doing it regularly, you will need to wean them off of the nicotine. Talk to your doctor, and determine how best to taper the dosage down.
- Discuss the Health Risks of Vaping: Teenagers may not be aware of the risks associated with vaping. Vape products are marketed as safe, but the reality is that kids are exposing their body to a variety of toxic substances and potential illnesses. Discuss the risks of vaping, such as:
- Lung illness
- Heart attack
- Nicotine addiction
Be straight forward with your kids about vaping and the risks. Talk to them about the danger of nicotine addiction and the long-term health effects of smoking or vaping.
Get Help with Vaping Related Illness Questions
If someone you love is battling vaping related illness and you want to know more about how to help them, contact Drug and Device Watch. Our law firm is currently representing families who are battling side effects of JUUL and other e-cigarette products. If your family is experiencing the effects of nicotine addiction, lung illness, seizures, or other side effects of vaping, we can help.
Contact Drug and Device Watch to request a complimentary legal consultation with our JUUL addiction attorney. We represent clients nationwide. Call 1-888-458-6825, or fill out our online contact form to get started.