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Vaping Industry Rallies To Oppose Looming Flavor Crackdown From The FDA

Daily Caller News Foundation

Steve Birr on June 28, 2018

The vaping industry is rallying former smokers who quit using an electronic cigarette to share their stories with federal regulators, who are mulling restrictions on flavored products.

The advocacy campaign, dubbed #Fight4Flavor, comes in response to a proposed rule from the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco and nicotine flavoring, something users and harm reduction experts fear is a veiled attempt to cripple the market for alternative products and technologies.

The Global Vaping Standards Association (GVSA) is leading the campaign, which encourages any users of alternative technologies and smokeless products to submit comments to the FDA on how flavors helped them make the switch from combustible cigarettes, which continue to be the number one cause of preventable death worldwide.

The FDA is currently seeking comments on the implications of flavored products, particularly whether they are having a negative impact on youths.

“Flavor and choice of flavors had provided me the number one reason for not going back to cigarettes,” Christopher Boone, a 33-year-old vaper from New York, recently submitted to the FDA, according to a statement from the GVSA.

Public health experts focused on harm reduction note flavor restrictions will likely serve to marginalize former smokers relying on a vape to satiate their nicotine cravings, potentially pushing them back to deadly combustible cigarettes. They argue flavors are key to helping smokers disassociate with the taste of tobacco.

The GVSA coalition includes companies AVAIL Vapor, Charlie’s Chalk Dust, Mama’s, SMOK, The Drip Club, Vaporesso, Midwest Distribution, My Vapor Store and Vapor Authority.

“The industry leaders of this coalition are all committed to advocating for vapers’ rights and their right to choose flavored e-liquids while also following strict regulations to keep vape products out of the hands of minors,” Maggie Gowen, executive director of GVSA, said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Today over 400,000 people have made a comment, and through our combined resources, we have the ability to reach over two million additional vapers. For adult consumers, flavoring is what helped them transition from smoking to vaping. For the manufacturers and retailers, it’s their livelihood. We have to champion an endeavor that protects all of these groups in an effort towards harm reduction.”

It remains unclear what action the FDA may take on flavors, however, recent rhetoric from Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has users concerned. Gottlieb, speaking at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago June 2, said he has been “disappointed” with the response from the vaping industry since the agency began seeking public input on flavors in March.

He said vapor companies “better step up and step up soon.” Comments for the proposed FDA rule must be submitted by July 19.

Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and the Centre for Health Policy at the Imperial College in London published a study in September 2017 investigating the impact flavor restrictions may have on e-cigarette use. The scientists found that a ban on e-cigarette flavors in the U.S. would reduce the use of vaping devices by more than 10 percent, suggesting users would default back to more harmful cigarettes.

Harm-reduction experts say an FDA intervention into flavored products risks upending the vapor industry and hurting smokers who have successfully quit with e-cigarettes.

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