NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KFTA) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rolled out new measures against the tobacco industry Thursday.
The agency says it will begin banning menthol in cigarettes and limit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes to youth, and new statistics on vaping have some people alarmed.
The FDA says vaping has increased nearly 80% among high schoolers and 50% among middle schoolers since last year.
That prompted the organization to take action by moving forward with taking flavored electronic cigarette liquid off shelves and certain websites.
“In regards to the millennials, the younger generation, I believe it’s become a fad,” Dr. Michael Green, Medical Director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at Northwest Medical Center, said.
New numbers from the FDA show the number of current vapers in middle and high school has jumped by roughly 1.5 million since 2017.
That means 3.6 million kids are vaping, and they’re using flavored liquids more often.
“What we know now is that you have chronic exposure to heavy metals. Chromium, tin, lead, nickel. You have chronic exposures to heated oils. You have chronic exposure to flavorence that can lead to deterioration to lung disease and put one at increased risk of lung cancer.”
Dr. Green says vaping is an alternative to smoking cigarettes that carries a lot of risk for little benefit.
“Vaping has become so prevalent that not only is it injuring the primary user, but we got to take into account if you are sitting next to someone vaping all the time, that you’re going to be running the same risk as someone who is chronically smoking regular cigarettes.”
The FDA says it will stop the sale of flavored electronic cigarette liquid at convenience stores and gas stations.
Nexus Vape Shop & Coffeehouse owner Raymond Key of says this is a good thing, because it will make it a lot harder for the underage crowd to get their hands on these products — which are intended to help addicted smokers.
“There’s a lot of trouble you can get in by selling to underage and it’s not something I want to contribute to because the whole point of this is to get off of smoking, not to actually create another habit,” Key said.
And on Tuesday, the leading maker of e-cigarettes, Juul, said it would stop most retail sales of flavor products and eliminate some of its social media accounts.
It’s all part of a plan to restrict access to minors.
The proposed changes do not include mint, menthol and tobacco flavors, so that people looking to quit smoking cigarettes still have a few options.