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How should vaping be regulated?

Johnson City Press • Updated Nov 18, 2018 at 7:21 PM

As Johnson City Press reporter Brandon Paykamian wrote last week, Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb issued a strong condemnation of new statistics showing sharp increases in the use of e-cigarettes by the country’s young people.

In one year, a new survey reported a nearly 80 percent increase in vaping among high-schoolers, who legally shouldn’t be allowed to purchase vape devices and the nicotine-containing liquids used in them.

Worried of the public health impacts of a new generation addicted to nicotine, Gottlieb said the survey results shocked his conscience, and he proposed stricter policies against flavors of e-liquids and marketing tactics that may appeal to minors. He also urged businesses that sell e-cigarettes and related products to cordon off sections of stores from underage shoppers and to put stronger age restrictions on websites that sell them.

Many anti-smoking organizations applauded Gottlieb’s statements and proposals, although some called for even stricter regulations.

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the FDA’s new policies leave the door open for the rapid expansion of standalone vape shops, which he said do not do a good enough job of preventing underage sales. Myers called for a ban all vaping products that have not been evaluated by the FDA, a reversal of the agency’s decision last year to allow such products to be sold until 2022 without prior review.

Others tied to the vaping industry, however, say e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking. Vape industry advocates say they have been used to help adults stop smoking, although studies have shown limited evidence of their effectiveness as smoking cessation tools.

If sales are age restricted, they say, there isn’t a need for strict regulations on available products.

The growing industry could have a significant impact on public health, so we want to hear from you.

How should vaping be regulated? What policies should the FDA and other agencies put in place to ensure minors don’t have access to e-cigarettes and related products, and how should they make sure the products legally sold to adults are safe?

Send your correspondence to [email protected]. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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