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FDA Classifies E-Cigarettes as Tobacco Products

In January of this year, the FDA passed new regulations that e-cig manufacturers feared would occur as more scrutiny hit the industry over vaping products and their effects on youth. The new FDA regulations lump e-cigs in with traditional tobacco products like cigars and cigarettes, despite research showing that electronic cigarettes are not as harmful as those other products, nor do they typically contain as much nicotine. In fact, many people use vaping products to transition away from smoking and use them to quit smoking altogether.

The FDA and many watchdog groups are concerned about the rise of vaping among youth, as more youth use vaporizers and electronic cigarettes than any other nicotine product. This rise of vaping among youth has alarmed activist and anti-vapers, with many of them calling on government regulatory organizations like the FDA to restrict vaping products in the same way that tobacco products are regulated and restricted.

The new classification ensures that youth and everyone else are having to deal with new restrictions being applied to vaping products. This means that free samples cannot be passed out at the retail level or by manufacturers, making it difficult to attract new customers. The same advertising restrictions that apply to tobacco products are also being leveled at vaping paraphernalia.  This means that an industry that has already had a difficult time competing with the tobacco industry will be fettered with more restrictions that keep them from competing fairly with the tobacco industry- an industry that is already deeply entrenched in the public consciousness.

Vaping is new as an industry, and the tobacco industry has decades of advertising and public awareness to draw upon to bring in new customers. This has made it hard for vaping to break through and reach a wider demographic in many ways, despite being hailed as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking.

We have already seen the negative effects of these restrictions on teenagers and other youth. Since the restrictions have gone into place and the FDA’s new rules lumping vaping products in with tobacco products, youth have increased their cigarette usage. Since the new ruling too effect, youth cigarette smoking has practically doubled. While it was still very low- under 1% of all youth- the current rate is now almost 1.5%. That may not seem like much, but when you look at it as a trend, it is certainly alarming and speaks poorly of how the trend may continue in the future. We will likely see more youth turn to smoking instead of vaping, if vaping continues to be so strongly regulated and restricted.

Vaping was popular among youth because of how easily accessible it was before these new regulations, several websites such as aquavape.co.uk require you to be over 18 to purchase their products. There was little fear in the industry that it was serving as a gateway drug to cigarette smoking, but when these FDA regulations went into effect, young people started to turn to cigarette smoking more often than they had before.

This should alarm anyone who is concerned about the health of the younger generation. Vaping has proven to be much safer than smoking, with little to no secondhand effects and fewer long-term health problems generated by its usage. The FDA simply reacted to the increase of youth using vaping products in the most obvious way- by restricting youth access to them. It has had an unintended side effect, and perhaps we will see a course correction if the FDA and the public are made aware of how dangerous these restrictions can be. Never mind the effect on the industry, even though it is certainly a damaging one. What is more important is that the youth are being negatively affected and turning to cigarette smoking more than ever, when they were previously trending away from this dangerous vice.