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Vape News In Brief: November 28th, 2018 Edition

Vape News In Brief: November 28th, 2018 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…


…the biggest news on the vaping front, a move by the US Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale of flavored vapor products in most convenience stores and other retail locations. The ban won't include tobacco, menthol, or mint flavors, nor will it apply to stores that minors are blocked from entering. The good news is that, for now at least, the ban won't apply to online sales or brick-and-mortar vape shops that check ID at the door. Juul has already responded by pulling its flavor pods from third-party vendors; the only place to get them will be directly from the company's website. Big Tobacco-backed cigalike manufacturer MarkTen promised to discontinue sales of flavored pods entirely, with just tobacco and menthol remaining. Expect more on this front in the weeks to come, as FDA chief Scott Gottlieb says he's going after menthol-flavored combustible cigarettes next.


Here's a fascinating analysis of smoking trends data that concludes vaping is a “public health win.” Why? It says instead of causing more young people to start smoking, the existence of vapor products has prevented people from smoking who otherwise would have. The author—an anti-smoking advocate and respected science writer who is the President of the American Council on Science and Health—uses his findings to argue for two things: support of vaping as we know it today as well heat-not-burn cigarettes, which have not yet been allowed to enter the US market.


Back to Juul, because of course back to Juul…the company has launched a new round of lawsuits against competitors it says illegally infringe on its patents. Juul’s litigation goes after companies that make liquid pods compatible with its proprietary battery system. The angle it's pursuing is new: Juul says copycats make "flavors that are clearly marketed to kids" which "are dangerous, bad for public health, and do not share our mission of improving lives of adult smokers." Juul gets credit for being foxy enough to flip the script. It’s basically using the same criticisms lodged against it (kids like flavors) as a means of attacking its competitors (kids like flavors.) Victory mau prove tricky, however, as many of the targeted products originate in China, where US patents are routinely and flagrantly ignored.


Speaking of marketing to kids and trademark infringement, this guy in the UK is two for two. Not only did he hijack the McDonald's logo to hawk his "McVapes" e-liquid, he also refashioned the fast food company’s well-known advertising tagline into "I'm vapin' it." Called out for his misappropriation, all the vendor could do was admit that, "Yes, that branding is a bit naughty." McDonald's apparently could not be reached for comment.


Staying in England for a bit, members of Parliament are calling for the establishment of vape-friendly workplaces and indoor spaces. Such action, legislators say, is needed to dispute the false assumption that secondhand exposure to vapor is as dangerous as secondhand smoke. To show they mean business, the Parliament building itself might just become one of the first vape-friendly offices.


This is an excellent read in which a pair of tobacco experts deconstruct the unenviable task the FDA is confronted with in trying to concurrently limit youth exposure to vaping while also ensuring the maximum health benefit possible for adult smokers who could benefit from quitting. Interesting takeaways: vaping has surpassed pharmaceutical products to become the number one method smokers turn to in trying to quit (even though it is not a pharmaceutical product), and the proposal to ban menthol cigarettes enjoys near-universal support. What seems to most concern health experts with the FDA’s approach is that, while problems arising from youth nicotine use won't become apparent for 25 to 30 years, health risks facing long-term smokers (i.e. a leading cause of preventable death in the US) are already very real today and in need of immediate action.


On the heels of the latest round of FDA actions, a new study from Georgetown University finds that teenage smoking rates have declined three times faster since vaping went mainstream than in previous years. "When e-cigarette use came in, smoking rates dropped between 25 and 40 percent," said lead study researcher David Levy. "Smoking rates in young adults have dropped by almost 50 percent, and most of that [has been] since 2013." The very existence of vaping, it appears, might even be amplifying anti-smoking sentiment by presenting what's widely viewed as a reduced-risk alternative to smoking. Levy worries that tighter e-cigarette restrictions might have the unintended consequence of increasing youth smoking rates, though he notes that consuming nicotine in any form is still harmful to developing adolescent brains.

Take two: the above-noted study, which examined data gathered in Canada, the US, and Australia over a 14-year period, seems to throw into doubt the assertion that vaping causes smoking. In every market studied, smoking rates continued to fall, often at an accelerated pace, after vaping was introduced. This flies in the face of the prevailing narrative favored by vapor opponents that vaping causes more people to take up smoking.


File to: not a good look. Fox News last week was trolled by a blogger from the controversial Barstool Sports website, wherein he defended "blowing fat clouds" as essential to "his swag." While his performance is good for a chuckle, we  give him a C- for failing to set the record straight. Instead of noting that there has NOT ONE SINGLE CASE of the dreaded "popcorn lung" occurring in vapers, he dismisses the disease by declaring that "I love popcorn." The (possibly) unintentional disaster even made its way into a Saturday Night Live open.

We'll leave it there for now, but there's always more coming, so stay tuned…