In October, after years of regulatory ambiguity and antagonism toward the e-cigarette industry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally granted its first-ever authorization for e-cigarette products to be marketed and sold in the United States.
While its decision should be applauded, the agency could be doing much more to promote vaping as a harm reduction measure for smokers.
While other countries — like the U.K. and Canada — have successfully integrated e-cigarettes into their tobacco harm reduction strategies, America has moved slowly to lift regulatory hurdles. Last September, more than 500 companies submitted some 6.5 million applications to the FDA seeking authorization to sell their vaping products in the U.S. market. More than a year later, after failing to meet a court-ordered deadline, the FDA has approved just three products — raising doubts about the e-cigarette industry’s legal status.
To those following the data closely, the FDA’s reluctance to recognize the public health benefits of e-cigarettes is puzzling, especially when set against the backdrop of the more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States caused by smoking.
Numerous studies indicate that vaping is an effective smoking cessation aid. In a controlled experiment, the gold standard in scientific research, British researchers recruited about 900 smokers and randomly assigned half to use e-cigarettes and the other half to use traditional nicotine replacement products. Among e-cigarette users, 18% had stopped smoking after a year, while only 9.9% of those using nicotine replacement therapy had quit — making e-cigarettes nearly twice as effective as FDA-approved smoking cessation products.
Steve Pociask – ACI – 2021-11-12.