American vapers and vaping businesses will shortly enter a period of chaos and existentially threatening regulation. First will be a ban on almost all flavours – everything except tobacco flavour and possibly menthol and mint.

That is likely to shut down nearly every vape shop and e-liquid company that isn’t part of a tobacco company. Then by 12 May next year, any surviving vaping companies and will have to comply with the hugely burdensome, opaque and unpredictable pre-market tobacco application process. Going into 2020, the industry will be in crisis and vapers and smokers will be in danger of losing one of the most important innovations of the century.

This post focuses on the first of these – the ban on flavours. Here are twenty things you should know about the US vaping flavour ban.

  1. What is happening about flavoured vaping products in the United States?
  2. Why is this happening now?
  3. The big question: does the FDA have any idea what it is doing?
  4. Kiddie-flavours are now defined as all flavours except tobacco flavour – but it wasn’t always that way
  5. Flavours are an important part of the appeal to adults
  6. Flavours as a whole are attractive to adolescents (but this is trivially obvious)
  7. Activists have moved from targeted youth-orientated measures to indiscriminate prohibition
  8. But don’t kids like (non-tobacco) flavours more than adults?
  9. Research suggests broader causes for youth vaping uptake than flavours
  10. Other research focuses on the initial choice of flavour but this offers a poor explanation for youth vaping
  11. Why not just ask adolescents why they vape?
  12. Do flavour descriptors attract teenage non-users? Hardly at all.
  13. Does teenage vaping justify banning (almost all) vaping products? What is the precedent?
  14. Could measures against vaping flavours make things worse for adolescents (as well as adults)?
  15. FDA does not care if vaping works as an alternative to smoking for adolescents – and this is deeply unethical
  16. Is there an elitist bias at work here? 
  17. Does adult vaping have benefits for kids?
  18. What are the likely marketplace consequences of a flavour ban?
  19. What if we actually wanted to do the right thing for adolescents?
  20. Could the anti-vaping moral panic actually be a cause of youth vaping?

Read full article here.

Clive Bates – Counterfactual – November 4, 2019.

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