eJuice

Flavored E-Cigs: For Kids Or Smokers Trying To Quit?

Posted by Admin on 6/13/2016

By Mike Davis – May 28th,2016

ALLENTOWN – Peggy Stover credits vaping with saving her husband’s life.

John smoked for 32 years, developing a nicotine addiction that couldn’t be satisfied by any gum, patch, throat lozenge or the hypnotist he hired to talk him out of it.

That ended three years ago, with John’s first puff of a vaporizer, an e-cigarette that replaces the tobacco-infused smoke with water vapor. It not only gave him nicotine and the familiar hand-to-mouth motions of cigarettes, but a sweet flavor that she says made him quit cigarettes for good.

“If he was still smoking, I’m not sure he would make it to our children’s weddings,” said Stover, owner of Ye Olde Vape Shoppe. “But he didn’t just stop because of the nicotine. He stopped by using flavors.”

But those flavors, the bottled ones that line the walls of the Stovers’ store, would be considered contraband under a new bill making its way through the Legislature.

Sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, the bill would ban the sale of “flavored electronic smoking devices” or flavored cartridges in the state. And while that includes all types of e-cigarettes, the bill has been hotly contested by people who smoke using vaporizers. Hundreds of “vapers” protested at the Statehouse when the bill was approved by the Senate health committee on May 16.

The vaping debate in New Jersey comes amid a national discussion on the devices and their use.

Although New Jersey would be the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, all but five states have some sort of regulation restricting e-cigarette use, usually in the form of local or countywide bans in public places, bars or restaurants.

Eight states, including New Jersey, have already instituted statewide “vaping bans” prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers in all places where traditional smoking is banned. Forty-eight states have banned e-cigarette sales to minors while four states have begun taxing vapor products.

The California Legislature is currently considering the country’s ninth statewide vaping ban.

At once, questions about the long-term health effects experienced by users are still uncertain, prompting more governments to intervene.

“Vaping” allows uses to customize their smoking, with different flavors, nicotine levels and a variety of shapes and sizes. But the flavors — which include anything from vanilla to cotton candy or Fruity Pebbles cereal — are just another incentive to get kids into smoking, Vitale said.

“The premise of the legislation is, in my view, eliminating the sale of flavored ‘e-juice’ because those flavors encourage kids and those under the legal of 19 to purchase them,” Vitale, chairman of the health committee. “Whether you’re in middle school or high school, if it tastes like gummy bears or cotton candy or vanilla, you’re much more likely to try it and become addicted to it than you are if it doesn’t have any taste at all,” he said.

In a January 2015 report, Wells Fargo it was bullish on the long-term vapor market but cautious due to “increased uncertainty,” with the industry becoming subject to further regulations.

Nonetheless, the industry still accounted for $3.5 billion in retail sales in 2015, expected to rise to $4.1 billion this year and $10 billion by 2018, according to Wells Fargo. Market researcher Euromonitor has pegged it as a $50 billion industry by 2030.

Marketed to kids? 

Vitale’s bill has the backing of the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, which have argued that “vaping” has drawn kids to smoking — not as a way to quit cigarettes but as a complete replacement.

According to the annual Youth Tobacco Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high school and middle school students are using e-cigarettes more than cigarettes, nearly 3 million people all told. The number of young people who used e-cigarettes and never smoked a cigarette tripled from 79,000 in 2011 to 263,000 in 2013.

And more than 63 percent of those who used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days said they used a flavored product, American Cancer Society’s New Jersey advocacy director Ethan Hasbrouck said.

“They market it with fun, sexy ads about vaping. They’re marketing flavors,” Hasbrouck said.

But the survey also reported that use of all tobacco products among the same group plummeted between 2013 and 2015, with use among high school students down from 46 percent to 25 percent and middle school students from 18 percent to 7 percent.

“They want to act like this is an epidemic. It’s not,” American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley said. “Smoking is rapidly declining.”

The flavor ban could also spell doom for businesses like Ye Olde Vape Shoppe, where the walls are lined with flavored e-liquids that would be considered contraband under Vitale’s bill.

Conley said about 85 percent to 90 percent of all sales in New Jersey’s vape shops come from flavored products.

“There is virtually no market in vape shops for tobacco and menthol flavors,” Conley said. “The vast majority of people who purchase tobacco or menthol flavors do so when they first quit smoking. When their taste buds come back, those same people want flavors to keep them off cigarettes.”

Stover says there’s a hypocrisy at the center of the bill. If legislators are so concerned with marketing flavored smoking products to children, why isn’t d legislation against flavored alcohol?

“If you walk into a liquor store, the whole wall of vodka has every single flavor you could imagine. You can get bubblegum, watermelon, cherry … But that doesn’t appeal to kids,” Stover said. “If you can’t get alcohol until you’re 21, why do they make it flavored? That’s legal. Yes, we’re adults, but we still like flavors.

“It’s a much more enjoyable thing to pick up instead of a stinky cigarette,” she said.

 Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration broadened its definition of “tobacco products” to include “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” such as e-cigarettes, vaporizers and hookahs. That allows the FDA to regulate the devices just like cigarettes, requiring manufacturers to submit applications — and registration fees — for each new product, which they must label with the standard “surgeon general’s warning.”

The new FDA rules did not include a flavor ban for e-cigarettes, though the administration is working on extending a flavor ban from cigarettes to cigars.

“Millions of kids are being introduced to nicotine every year, a new generation hooked on a highly addictive chemical,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said at the time. “We cannot let the enormous progress we’ve made toward a tobacco-free generation be undermined by-products that impact our health and economy in this way.”

 Like the flavor ban in New Jersey, the FDA ruling drew lines in the sand between medical organizations and e-cigarette industry groups.

“Ending the tobacco epidemic is more urgent than ever, and can only happen if the FDA acts aggressively and broadly to protect all Americans from all tobacco products,” said Harold Wimmer, president of the American Lung Association.

“We will come out with a vengeance,” said Ray Story, CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. “We’re certainly not going to allow this industry to get swiped under the rug.”

Born to quit

Opponents of the bill have presented legislators with studies demonstrating the real effect vaping has on smokers trying to quit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 percent of smokers who recently quit used electronic cigarettes.

And in April, the Royal College of Physicians issued a glowing report of e-cigarettes and vaping, which they concluded was only 5 percent as harmful as smoking traditional cigarettes. Those who tried to quit cigarettes with an electronic smoking device were 50 percent more likely to succeed, according to the Royal College.

The study made waves in the vaping community, as the Royal College of Physicians famously linked cigarettes to lung cancer years before a U.S. advisory committee issued the same conclusion.

And it’s flavors that “help to break the pace of tobacco,” Conley said.

Ed Bowkley started smoking cigarettes when he signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps in 1974, developing a three pack per day habit. Even after a pair of heart attacks, the most Bowkley could do was turn to cigars instead.

And then he started vaping, relying on strawberry and butterscotch custard flavors.

“Now, the smell of tobacco turns my stomach,” Bowkley said. “If it wasn’t for e-liquids and vaping, I wouldn’t be here right now, to be honest. I’d probably be dead. Without flavored e-liquids, there’s no way I would have been able to cease using tobacco products in any way, shape or form.”

“It’s the opposite of nicotine gum, patches and lozenges. They deliver nicotine very slowly and do not replicate the smoking experience. You don’t have the same feeling of something hitting your throat and exhaling it,” Conley said.

Without vaping, it’s more likely that smokers would return to cigarettes than tobacco- or menthol-flavored vapor liquid, said Woodbridge resident Matt Schey, for whom vaping helped replace a two packs-a-day cigarettes habit.

“I tried all other means to quit and nothing worked,” Schey said. “This worked for me and I see it working in other people. I breathe better. I sleep better. Taking this away would be detrimental to the health of many people in the state. These products saved my life. I stand by them.”

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