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FDA deems vaping an epidemic among US high schoolers

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Nic Sloan, Co-Editor

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is starting to crack down on teen vape use. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has been taking the lead in this process. On Sept. 12 this year, Gottlieb declared youth vaping to be an epidemic.

  Recent reports have shown a 900% increase of teen e-cigarette use since 2011. According to the FDA’s 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, over 2.1 million middle and high school students admitted to using E-cigarettes.

  But on top of all these rising concerns, the FDA has one major reason for taking action. It’s believed that these e-cigarette companies are specifically targeting kids in their marketing strategies. One of their reasons for this claim is in the naming of their “flavors”. Most e-cigarettes companies make different “flavors” or “juices” for their products. A lot of these flavors are named to be appealing to their consumers; however, the consumers they would appeal to most is youth. For example, flavors such as cotton candy, bubblegum, and chocolate are likely to appeal directly to youth, enticing them to buy the product illegally.

  Because of this, the FDA is starting to limit e-cigarette companies’ marketing authority. JUUL Labs, one of the leading producers of e-cigarettes, is a prime example of this. On Sept. 12, the FDA issued a warning letter addressed to JUUL Labs.

  The letter was made to warn JUUL that their products are targeting minors. In their letter, the FDA states that JUUL Labs has 60 days from the release of the letter to prove they can keep their products away from minors.

  Following this, the FDA conducted a surprise inspection, “raid”, on Fri. Sept. 28 at JUUL Labs headquarters. They came out of the raid with over a thousand pages of documents. The FDA claimed this action to be a follow-up to a request they made back in April. Kevin Burns , the CEO of JUUL Labs, claims to have already supplied over 50,000 documents to the FDA following that request. The documents seized were all related to the business’s marketing strategies.

  But JUUL wasn’t the only one to receive a letter. The FDA claimed to send out over 1,100 other warning letters to e-cigarette retailers concerning selling e-cigarette products to minors. They also issued them the same 60 day warning as to how these retailers plan to improve keeping e-cigarette products out of teens hands.

  However, local student’s say differently. “It’s really not that easy to get ahold of vaping products, especially when your under the legal age to go into a shop” an anonymous sophomore said. “Usually you’d have to order things online, which isn’t much easier.”

  But what’s the big deal? Why is this widespread epidemic of youth vaping so concerning? Turns out, vaping is proving to be more addictive than cigarettes, specifically JUUL.

  While vaping contains much less of the harmful chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, it contains a lot more nicotine, the chemical that makes tobacco products addictive. JUUL products contain up to twice as much nicotine as a traditional cigarettes. Not to mention that the developing teenage mind is especially susceptible to addiction.

  With these alarming high levels of nicotine, combined with the nationwide teenage fad of e-cigarette use, vaping and “juuling” are becoming a gateway for teens to grow into detrimental futures.

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FDA deems vaping an epidemic among US high schoolers