Legal System To Play Catch Up With E-Cig Epidemic

Published on September 30, 2018

E-Cigarettes are about to get a lot harder to get.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering banning the online sale of e-cigarettes. A representative for the administration made the announcement this week. Commissioner Scott Gottleib made the announcement in response to the epidemic of underage use of the product. Just weeks ago Gottleib declared the massive popularity of the products an epidemic. E-cigarettes, which are available for purchase online as of right now, give easy access to nicotine vapor products without question.

What Are E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes originally hit the market as an alternative to cigarette smoking that would lower the risks involved in ingesting tobacco products. The products were introduced and marketed to the general public as a smoking alternative that would encourage users to quit altogether. E-cigarettes quickly caught on as a trending product among young adults and even teenagers. It didn’t take long for e-cigarettes to become a massive epidemic among young people in America.

The Center for Disease Control has reported that teen use of tobacco and tobacco related products has rose nearly 75 percent in the last year. The increasing popularity among teens is largely due to the advances in e-cigarette technology. Tobacco consumption has dropped to record lows in recent years. However, those numbers have been displaced by the amount of young people that are now addicted to nicotine.

Companies like Juul have also come under fire for using marketing to attract younger people to use their products. Since the products are available online, they’re fairly easy to get. The company claims that it never intended to get so many young people addicted to the product. However, the company uses social media platforms like Snapchat—which is popular with teens—to attract customers. Juul went viral in the last year or so as a cool new tech product. The e-cigarette resembles a USB drive and offers sleek packaging to attract a younger audience interested in owning the latest tech.

A Smoke Free Future

Efforts to get people to quit smoking have taken off in the last decade. Tobacco consumption is low because smoking just isn’t cool anymore. If you’ve gone out at all in the last few years you’ve probably noticed the candy scented haze that now fills the smoking section of every bar or nightclub.

When they first hit the market, e-cigarettes were a largely new frontier. There were no laws about when or where you could puff on the devices. Soon, though, businesses began to ban the products indoors or altogether. The US didn’t even fully ban the devices on commercial flights until 2016, though airlines attempted to ban them before then.

It could take some time before the FDA catches up to the e-cigarette epidemic or really gets a hold of what they’re dealing with. As with any technological advancement, there are often a lot of kinks to work out in the beginning. Hopefully the legal system can figure out a way to coexist with these products and figure out a way to have them do less harm and more good.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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