Vaping among kids and teens a growing concern

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concerns about rising incidence of vaping or smoking e-cigarettes among underage students and teenagers.

The FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has said in a statement that use of the devices like Juul brand e-cigarettes have reached “epidemic” proportions. He said that these devices that were targeted initially for people wishing to quit traditional smoking are now being sold to teenagers who have never smoked.

There are tempting flavours of these e-cigs that are created to lure in youngsters, he said. Some of these include fruit medley, birthday cake, and 7,000 more. These pods of flavours are available at gas stations and in most cases no ID is sought for. The FDA conducted an undercover operation and found that retailers are selling these to underage buyers. It has issued warning letters and Juul and other manufacturers have been given 60 days to develop strategies to prevent teens from smoking.

Image Credit: Ulf Wittrock / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Ulf Wittrock / Shutterstock

Gottlieb said in s statement, “The FDA cannot tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a trade off for enabling adults to access these products.”

The CDC data in its annual National Youth Tobacco Survey says that there has been a 75 percent rise in teenagers using e-cigarettes. This translates into 20 percent of high school kids and around 3 million kids across the country.

Matt Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said, “I'm not very happy with either the FDA or Juul... What I want is the government to do its job.” “The FDA pointing the finger at Juul is not enough,” he said. The American Lung Association has also said in a statement after the FDA stance, “For years, the American Lung Association has been sounding the alarm that FDA has been extremely slow to use its authority to protect children from e-cigarettes.” The American Academy of Pediatrics condemned the FDA’s new plan of providing the companies with 60 days to come up with an answer. Both the ALA and the AAP call this just a “delay” strategy. “FDA for years has repeatedly missed opportunities to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our children,” added the American Cancer Society. Truth Initiative, a group dedicated to preventing youth tobacco use also said, “The time for action is before a product such as Juul is in every high school in the United States, not after.”

These groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, and the Truth Initiative along with some individual pediatricians, this year in March had filed a Law suit against the FDA for not taking appropriate measures against the e-cigarette products promptly.

The FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib on 12th September did announce their course of action and this just led the shares of cigarette makers up. ALA called this as “even more inaction from FDA.” This new step from FDA includes 1,300 warnings, letters and fines however. Gottlieb said commercials will run on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Facebook and Instagram and concluded, “No youth should be using any nicotine-containing product.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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