Vape News In Brief: April 3rd, 2019 Edition
Welcome to Breazy Briefs, where we take a look around the globe, searching for news, science, and the occasional tasty pop culture tidbit related to vaping and the life of vapers. Today, let's talk about…
…more fallout from the surprise resignation of FDA czar Scott Gottlieb, who leaves office at the end of the month. Lobbyists representing both the tobacco and vapor industries have begun to swarm Washington, pushing back against policies Gottlieb recently introduced that would limit the sale of flavored e-liquids to age-restricted locations and eventually reduce the nicotine content in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels. With Gottlieb out before any policy can be finalized and a business-friendly conservative government in power, there's a strong chance that both vapers and cigarette pushers will have a chance to make their respective cases.
Maryland is the latest state to consider a pair of bills that would raise the legal smoking and vaping age to 21. Legislators go a step further in proposing a ban on vapor products that feature cartoons or photographs of people who appear to be younger than 27 on their packaging, saying that such restrictions would limit the appeal of the products to children.
Just a reminder that it's never safe to carry loose vape batteries in your pocket. This should go without explanation by now, but a South Carolina man who purchased an off-brand vape battery and then mishandled it, causing an explosion in his pants, is blaming the shop that sold him his gear for failing to educate him on how to properly use it. Never, never, carry loose batteries in your pocket or purse, folks.
Hardly vape adjacent, but whatever: in China, Consumer Rights Day is a chance for the state-run media to pillory products with negative community perception. E-cigs are on the list but also, surprisingly, so are children's toys made from recycled medical waste. That's not a typo.
Science: researchers in Great Britain are generally some of the most receptive to the benefits of switching from smoking to vaping, but a leading cancer surgeon there is worried that teenage girls vaping today could lead to higher instances of breast cancer in the future. The linked article notes that no connection has actually been made between vaping and breast cancer, though nearly 1 in 6 British teens have tried a vapor device at least once in their lives.
It has come to our attention that vape parties are, somehow, now a thing. And we approve.
It's questionable how much power Scott Gottlieb still wields after effectively rendering himself a lame duck, but these comments from the outgoing FDA chief are interesting nonetheless. In a recent interview, Gottlieb is now saying that pod mods specifically, rather than vaping in general, may be the target of the next round of bans if underaged vaping doesn't begin to subside. His reasoning: pod-style devices are hands-down the vape of choice for the teenage set. Interestingly absent from the conversation is nicotine content: while Gottlieb has consistently attacked the amount of nicotine found in combustible cigarettes, it's rarely mentioned that pod devices routinely deliver as much as 20 times the nicotine punch of more conventional vape liquids.
Every now and again, an article comes along with a refreshingly straightforward look at the health effects of vaping. This is one of those articles. Money quotes from The Science Times: "e-cigarette vapor contains no carbon monoxide, 98 percent less metals, 98 percent less carbonyls, 98 percent less tobacco specific nitrosamines, 98 percent less volatile organic compounds and 98 to 99 percent less polyaromatics. In vitro studies conducted in test tubes have concluded that e-cigarette vapor is 98 percent less toxic to cells than traditional cigarette smoke." On secondhand vapor, "Studies are showing that not only is second hand vaping non-existent, vaping actually has no effect whatsoever on the immediate atmosphere, as 97 percent of the vapor is water and is dissolves into the air within 10 to 15 seconds." And on direct risk to active vapers, "if these were an involuntary exposure in a workplace, taking place over decades, they would not justify any attention. Indeed, the values obtained were between one percent and five percent of the levels needed to cause a health concern in a workplace."
Growing numbers: you know that vaping is continuing to enjoy a rise in popularity, though growth is no longer the explosive force it was during the middle portion of the decade. Overall, the number of vapers has grown by 900% since 2011, when the vaping population became large enough to meaningfully track.
Singapore, which has some of the world's most restrictive vaping laws, is considering allowing vapor products to be sold, but only to people who possess a doctor's prescription for their use as a quit-smoking aid. That's a start, we suppose.
Not bright: Michigan's former governor vetoed a bill that would make it illegal for minors to purchase or possess vapor products. This has state law enforcement agencies and others seeking to limit underaged access to vape gear frustrated. Rick Snyder, ousted by term limits earlier this year, said he wanted vapor products to be redefined as tobacco, despite the fact that vape hardware, batteries, and many e-liquids do not actually contain tobacco. The argument over linguistics, meanwhile, has left officials stymied when it comes to preventing underage access to products that, while not containing tobacco, do often contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug found in tobacco.
This new study finds that while infrequent underaged vapers are likely to receive vapor products from friends or family members, most regular users are purchasing products on their own directly from retailers. While not perfect, online vape shops appear to be targeted by youth buyers less frequently than brick-and-mortar locations including vape shops, drug stores, and gas stations.
San Francisco, already the most actively anti-vaping municipality in the US after banning flavored e-liquid in 2018, has now proposed to completely ban the sale of vapor products unless the FDA issues explicit approval for their distribution. If that ever happens, it'll be several years in the future. Also included in the new legislation is a caveat to ban the manufacture, sale, or distribution of tobacco or vapor products on city-owned property. This would effectively evict cigalike giant Juul, which leases office space on a portion of municipal Pier 70.
While US authorities work to push for vaping bans, a new study covering New Zealand and Australia suggests that increasing access to vapor products would result in positive health outcomes for the nations' population as a whole, increase the lifespans of the citizenry, and save the collective governments billions of dollars in dealing with tobacco-related disease that's expected if tobacco users don't switch to vaping.
We've got more on Gottlieb, who's been dominating the last few vape news cycles in a way that only Juul has been able to in recent months. In this piece, the outgoing FDA czar doubles down on his threat to pod devices, threatening essentially to ban all pod- and cartridge-based vapes outright if teen interest in vaping doesn't plummet based off 2019 survey data, which is currently being collected.
We'll cap things with that for now, but check back soon, because there's always breaking news, and we're here to figure out how much of it you can use…