Following alarming media reports and public pressure, the FDA has been cracking down on Juul and teen vaping. Last September, the agency issued more than 1,000 warning letters to U.S. retailers and manufacturers of e-cigarettes, amongst which Juul, in what the agency called “the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history.”
In the letters, the agency demanded that these companies present proof that they can keep the nicotine-containing products out of the hands of minors, within 60 days. Should they fail to do so, the FDA may ban candy-like flavors, such as bubble gum and crème brûlée, that may be particularly appealing to this age group.
Following this, the FDA conducted an unexpected inspection at Juul’s San Francisco headquarters, and seized over a thousand documents related to the company’s operations. The agency said that this inspection “sought further documentation related to Juul’s sales and marketing practices, among other things.
E-cigs present a great opportunity for smoking cessation
However, director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation and professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, Jed Rose, is skeptical about the agency’s recent claims and actions. “E-cigarettes are one of the most promising developments in the field of smoking cessation,” he said.
“Currently, over 500,000 Americans die every year of smoking related disease, a number that continues to rise. Cigarette smoking imposes a completely unacceptable burden of death and disease.”
Vaping is effective since it mimics the action of smoking
In line with what other public experts have previously explained, Rose, who has researched nicotine since the 70s, and has helped invent top stop-smoking products such as nicotine patches and the prescription drug Chantix, pointed out that smokers are not just addicted to nicotine, but also to the physical action of smoking.
“We’ve done studies where we’ve intravenously administered smokers with the same dose of nicotine they would get from a cigarette and found that this doesn’t satisfy their craving,” Rose said. “On the other hand, if they smoke a denicotinized cigarette, their craving is relieved quite a bit.”
Rose added, that unlike other cigarette alternatives such as nicotine gum and patches, e-cigarettes replace the physical motion of smoking and hence make the transition from smoking to not smoking an easier one.
Is there really a youth vaping epidemic?
In line with other anti-smoking researchers such as Dr. Farsalinos, Rose thinks that claims about Juul addicting a generation of teens to nicotine, and that there currently is a vaping epidemic are exaggerated. “The ‘epidemic’ of youth addiction is greatly exaggerated,” Rose said. “This isn’t good, but it has to be weighed against the 500,000 preventable deaths that can be lessened using e-cigarettes.”
He pointed out that Duke Center for Smoking Cessation is doing a Juul trial, which seems to be yielding positive results and hence there is “good reason to believe” that the Juul device can help people quit smoking.