Federal flavor ban goes into effect Thursday, but many flavored vape products will still be available

Experts say that despite the nationwide ban of many flavored e-cigarettes coming into effect on Thursday, teenagers still have access to nicotine vapes.

The ban will cover a variety of flavors that are kid-friendly, including mint, fruit, and tobacco, but menthol flavorings and tobacco flavorings remain legal. The ban is only applicable to certain types of devices. These are cartridges or pre-filled pods, such as the popular Juul devices. All other devices are still on the market.

It is unlikely that limiting Juul’s access, after stopping all sales of non-menthol or tobacco-flavored pods last November, will have much effect on teens who are already addicted to nicotine.

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Meredith Berkman told NBC News that “kids have moved forward.” PAVE is a group of parents who oppose the use of electronic cigarettes.

She said that teens are aware of the fact that teachers have been trained on how to detect vaping. They’re obtaining their nicotine in other forms, such as products that are not covered by the impending ban.

Berkman stated that “kids sucking on flavored nicotine pouches will get them through the day, until they get home and their device.” These pouches look like chewing tobacco but are “tobacco free.”

Experts in teen drug addiction said that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that teens prefer highly concentrated nicotine vape products such as Smoke and Suorin drops as well as cheaper disposable vape pods known as Puff Bars. Both will be removed from the market on Thursday.

Bonnie Halpern, a Stanford University professor who studies teen vaping, said, “I’m really not optimistic.” We need to enforce the law on all tobacco products regardless of loopholes.

A tobacco education provider confiscated e-cigarettes at a Northern California School District. Most of the products confiscated were disposables. Courtesy of Bonnie HalpernFelsher

Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said that the new policy did not solve the issue. Parents should continue to educate their teens about nicotine addiction and be on guard. “Millions” of flavored products are still available.

In September, after the release of key data about teen vaping in America, plans to restrict e-cigarette flavorings on a federal scale were first discussed. The data revealed that between 2017 and 2019, the rates of vaping among students in 8th, 12th, and 10th grades had more than doubled.

This report was released at the height of a crisis in public health: mysterious and severe lung diseases associated with vaping.

Since then, the number of new cases has decreased significantly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of Jan. 21 (the most recent data available), there were 2,711 hospitalized cases of EVALI or e-cigarette or vaping-related lung injury.

All 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., reported EVALI cases. Sixty people have died. Many others have suffered permanent lung damage.

Investigations revealed that most of the cases were not related to vaping nicotine but rather THC, a psychoactive component found in marijuana. The majority of THC vapes were from friends or drug dealers. The CDC says that Vitamin E oil is the main culprit for lung damage. However, other chemicals and additives cannot be ruled out.

Companies that manufacture vape products, including those included in the ban, will need to submit a request to the Food and Drug Administration by May 12 to continue to sell their products.

The FDA will review these applications within a year, which is the period during which products will likely remain on the market.

HalpernFelsher stated that the ban was not “forever.” “We still have a lot of work to do.”

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