FDA’s crackdown on e-cigarettes sends a positive message

October 12, 2018 — by Alex Wang

Reporter argues that FDA is taking steps in the right direction.

The new bathroom policies introduced this year were a part of the administration’s effort to combat student use of electronic cigarettes, the most popular brand being the notorious JUUL.

Of course, this problem is not limited to Saratoga High; teen use of e-cigarettes is now a nationwide epidemic, and the Food and Drug Administration is taking positive (and overdue) steps to crack down.

The FDA released a statement on Sept. 12 mandating popular e-cigarette brands, specifically JUUL, MarkTen, Vuse, Blu and Logic, to prove that they can keep their products away from minors within 60 days. The brands must revise marketing techniques, including websites, and remove the flavorings popular with younger users, among other changes.

The FDA also targeted convenience stores and other retailers who are selling e-cigarettes to minors, issuing fines and sending warning letters. Finally, the FDA began investigating companies that purchase products in bulk to prevent adults from mass buying devices to resell or distribute to teenagers.

The main reason behind this critical stance against e-cigarettes are their nicotine levels and the predatory sales tactics used by the companies that manufacture them. According to The New York Times, e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes but have increased levels of nicotine that cause them to be more addictive.

This abnormally high amount of nicotine can have a negative effect on the growing adolescent brain. While e-cigarettes were initially designed and marketed as a healthy alternative to smokers who were trying to curb their habit, they instead did the opposite. Today’s teens are getting addicted to JUULs and Blus, not Marlboros.

Another major criticism of e-cigarettes is their popularization of flavored hits. For example, JUUL offers eight flavors, ranging from mango to mint, while Blu offers an even greater variety of 16 flavors. These flavors are often one reason teens use and get hooked on e-cigarettes; like candy, they appear to be fun and taste good despite being unhealthy.

After the FDA’s statement that e-cigarettes can have significant negative impacts on teenagers’ health, there will be a stronger stigmatization of e-cigarettes; this rebranding of e-cigarettes into something as addictive and harmful as their more traditional counterparts is a step in the right direction.

Now that the government has explicitly condemned e-cigarettes and recognized the danger they pose to teenagers, the hope is that fewer JUULs and other e-cigarettes will be getting into the hands of the 2 million middle and high school students across the country.

This change also translates to the school’s new policies: The school has reclassified JUULs and other e-cigarettes to be on the same level of punishment — up to five days suspension and law enforcement notification — as substances like alcohol and marijuana.

The actions by both the FDA and the school mark the beginning of a campaign to take e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers. In the initial stages, these initiative seems like they will likely have an impact on e-cigarette usage among minors, but it is ultimately up to teenagers to decide for themselves if they want to risk their health and well-being with e-cigarettes.

While the largest way to fix the problem lies in teens making better judgments, the new FDA regulations will help change teenagers’ mindsets and underscore the dangers of e-cigarettes.

 
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