The year 2020 was such a whirlwind of disasters that the smaller stuff can get almost totally misplaced in the media. Weren’t murder hornets a thing? And didn’t the Pentagon confirm UFO sightings? It’s been pretty easy to get distracted from things that would otherwise be huge news! It’s important to dive back in to check in on some of these, because they still affect us, like Trump’s ban on vapes. So, where did my vape go? What were the details and what’s changed since then?
The Details and the Why
Where did my vape go? In January 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to remove most flavored vaping products from stores. Exceptions to the ban seemed to include tobacco and menthol e-cig cartridges as well as flavored products for open-tank systems.
Their reasoning for this ban was primarily to attempt to curb the rate of teens and young people using e-cigs. Sweet and fruity flavors are generally more attractive to younger people, so the administration believed that this ban was meant to balance the need to protect public health while recognizing that many adults use vapes and e-cigs to quit smoking cigarettes.
In the future, the FDA plans that manufacturers will have to apply for a premarket authorization from the FDA. So far, no e-cigarette products have been fully authorized by the FDA.
Many advocates of vaping point out the hypocrisy of “watering down” the ban to specifically target the flavored cartridge manufacturers and stores and not the rest of the tobacco and vaping industry.
Some also argue that the ban to flavored products will limit some adults in their efforts to quit smoking as they’ve been making it easier to resist cigarettes due to the better flavors. Critics also admit that targeting the cartridge-based products will eliminate jobs and de-incentivize innovation and investment in industries that are too tightly regulated.
From the other side, parents and health advocates have come to the table saying that the ban was not strong enough and the existing exemptions will not do enough to keep tobacco from our youth and public health, especially with the exclusion of menthol. Menthol cigarettes were also exempt from previous bans on flavored tobacco cigarettes and cigarillos. So, unless you want a menthol flavored puff, you might really be having to ask, “where did my vape go”?
Where We’re at Now
In May 2021, we are in a much different place than we were a year ago. While the new Biden administration has issued many orders to undo some of Trump’s policies, the vaping ban has not been one of those policies so far. As President Biden builds his cabinet and the Senate confirms his picks for department heads, there are signals that his picks are unlikely to unilaterally overturn the previous administration’s restrictions. Several of his top health picks have said in the past that they would oppose flavored vaping products in the marketplace due to health concerns. In fact, they might go a little further.
Biden’s administration recently announced that they plan to also ban menthol-flavored smoking products. Menthol is a cousin to mint flavoring, so it’s argued that exempting it from the flavor ban in both vapes and cigarettes/cigarillos is still allowing flavored tobacco products to be targeted at youths, and disproportionately towards African-American youths. You may be asking more than just “where did my vape go?” in the future.
New studies on the effects of vaping and vape product marketing continue to come out with new findings so be sure that you’re looking at the most updated information for all your research sources and pay attention to your local rules too. More updated info to come as it becomes available.