In a series of tweets Thursday afternoon, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb offered a pretty good preview of the agency’s outlook on the future of flavors in e-liquid — and the future isn’t bright.
Basing his comments on a CDC analysis of the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey, Gottlieb laments that 31 percent of the surveyed teens say they vape because of the availability of flavors. (Actually the question on the survey says the availability of “flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate”.)
“The troubling reality,” tweeted Gottlieb, “is that e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. Preventing youth from initiating the use of any tobacco product, including e-cigs, is critical.”
“Protecting future generations from all nicotine-containing products remains a top priority,” Gottlieb says in another tweet. “#FDA’s efforts seek to restrict youth access, limit youth appeal. We’ve also expanded public education efforts to include messaging re: dangers of youth use of e-cigarettes.”
As we reported in December, the FDA Center for Tobacco Products is preparing to begin the process of restricting and possibly banning e-liquid flavors (other than tobacco and menthol probably).
The agency is about to launch an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that will ask for public comment on regulation of flavors. In the draft version of the ANPRM, the FDA specifically notes supposed evidence that flavors appeal especially to kids.
“Certain flavors are generally recognized as appealing to youth, such as gummy bear and cotton candy, while others, such as coffee and cinnamon, may not be as obvious,” says the document. “In this notice, FDA would request information on how best to regulate flavors in tobacco products to limit appeal to youth and prevent youth initiation and use of tobacco products.”
Vapers and sellers of e-liquid should be making notes for the comments they’ll need to write very soon. If vapers can’t mobilize to fight a flavor ban, many thousands of businesses will fail, perhaps 100,000 jobs will be lost, and vapers everywhere will be choosing between tobacco flavors and tobacco.