FLAVORED VAPE VS. FLAVORED ALCOHOL: HEY GOVERNMENT, WHAT GIVES?
It feels like Puff Bar simply can’t escape the news. The media latches onto each vape-related story that crosses their radar. They blast alarmist headlines across our timelines and newsfeeds, sending understandably concerned parents into a panic time after time.
The FDA has had its eye on the electronic cigarette market for years. E-cigs have been around since the 2000s but started seeing widespread use during the mid-2010s. One of the FDA’s flagship goals was to categorize vaping products as tobacco products. They were successful in doing so in 2016.
Since then, legislators have set their sights to instating additional regulations and seem determined to eliminate vaping as a whole. They point to the rising rates of e-cig use among teenagers as their primary motive. They’re placing the blame for these statistics on catchy marketing campaigns, brightly-colored packaging, and the enjoyable flavors of vape products.
Listen, no one wants a teenager to pick up a new habit that’s difficult to quit. No one’s arguing that nicotine is good for you. It’s impossible to find an adult who thinks young people should develop a new nicotine dependency. But what’s the difference between flavored e-cigs and flavored alcohol?
TAKING DOWN E-CIGS, ONE FLAVOR AT A TIME
The FDA now set their crosshairs focused on flavored e-cig products. They implemented a “flavor ban,” which bans any pre-filled pods with flavors other than tobacco or menthol. Pre-filled pod systems with flavors including fruit or mint are no longer allowed under federal regulation.
Thankfully flavors are still allowed in certain types of products. Disposable devices like Puff Bars and e-liquid used in refillable tank systems can still carry flavors like fruits and desserts. But how much longer until the FDA finds a way to blacklist these products as well? Despite the fight put up by various advocacy groups, the future for e-cigs looks dim at times.
For example, states can enact restrictions on e-cigs and vape products. New Jersey took their legislation another step further than the federal flavor ban. Governor Phil Murphy banned the sale of all flavored e-cig products entirely. This includes pre-filled pod systems covered by federal law, as well as disposables and refillable tank systems.
New Jersey was the first state to implement an entire ban but it’s likely other states will follow. The FDA is unlikely to quit pushing in their fight against vaping products. How long will it be until federal restrictions are as extensive as New Jersey’s?
ADULTS DON’T LIKE FLAVORS?
Supporters of the flavor ban insist that limiting options to “unappealing” flavors like tobacco and menthol are a step in the right direction. They believe it will help curb the numbers of middle and high school students who vape.
Understandably, supporters want to limit the number of teenagers using e-cigs. You would have a difficult time finding any adult that doesn’t want to do the same thing, whether or not they use e-cigs.
But they’re forgetting that in the process of trying to help kids, they’re hurting responsible adults. Millions of people started using electronic cigarettes as a way to wean themselves off of traditional combustible cigarettes. They used flavors like Strawberry Watermelon and Chocolate Donut to keep them from going back to Marlboro Reds.
Legislators are banning the flavored nicotine that helps these adults avoid the harmful effects of cigarettes. But if they’re concerned about flavored products providing children an introduction to nicotine, what about the double standard that flavored alcohol?
WHAT ABOUT FLAVORED ALCOHOL?
Flavored liqueurs are nothing new. These heavily sweetened and sometimes highly alcoholic drinks are typically offered as after-dinner beverages. They include traditional flavors such as amaretto, peppermint schnapps, and coffee liqueurs.
Flavors have expanded into hard liquor as well, like vodka, tequila, and rum. There are normal options like citrus or berry, as well as some that are more off-the-wall. A quick web search revealed an extensive list of different flavored alcohol options including:
- Peanut Butter & Jelly
- Glazed Donut
- Salted Caramel
- Buttered Popcorn
- Rainbow Sherbert
- Vanilla Cupcake
- Pumpkin Pie
Many of those flavors sound similar to the list of flavors that the state of New Jersey just banned, with the FDA hoping to follow closely behind. Articles against e-cigs cite flavors like Glazed Donut and Vanilla Cupcake by name while there are alcoholic beverages available with the same flavor profile.
FLAVORED E-CIGS VS. FLAVORED ALCOHOL
What is the difference between flavored e-cigs vs. flavored alcohol? Why do legislators look at flavored nicotine as a gateway to use? Why don’t they bat an eye at the endless rainbow assortment of flavors when it comes to alcoholic beverages? How are things like peanut butter and jelly or rainbow sherbert not considered a gateway to other alcoholic drinks?
The regulations put forward by the FDA hinder millions of adults in the United States who use vaping as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. They found relief from cigarettes through the help of vaping. Now they’re being stripped of that option by the double standard of the vaping flavor ban.
How can the FDA look at flavored e-cigs vs. flavored alcohol and only hold one product accountable? If they want to blame flavors for the rise in teenage vaping they should consider the impact of flavored alcohol on teenage drinking.
Where is the national outrage at the rates of binge drinking in middle and high school students? If we’re going to consider the health concerns of the youth in the United States we need to look at it from all angles.
When it comes down to flavored e-cigs vs. flavored alcohol, what gives, America? Who determines the location of the line and why does the electronic cigarette industry need to pay?