The American Thoracic Society has urged the FDA to do more to prevent youth vaping by implementing a full ban on flavored e-cigarette products rather than the limited ban that applies only to pod cartridges while excluding tank-based systems, as well as menthol flavors.

On January 1, The Trump administration announced it would ban some flavored vaping products, except tobacco and menthol. The ban also applies to cartridge-based e-cigarettes but not tank-based vaping systems. Only three months earlier the administration had said it would outlaw all flavored vaping products.

“It is amazing how in a few short weeks, the FDA went from ‘clearing the market of all flavored products’ to effectively clearing the market for Juul’s menthol e-cigarettes and flavored e-liquids for ‘tank’ vaping systems,” says ATS Tobacco Action Committee Chair Michelle Eakin, PhD.

This policy will also allow flavorings to continue to be on the market for non-pod devices which will result in thousands of kid-friendly e-liquids to continue to be available, the ATS says. “While there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette flavorings are linked to higher rates of initiation and transition to daily use, there is no credible evidence demonstrating flavorings help adults quit tobacco product use,” according to ATS.

Overall, this policy will not stop the youth e-cigarette epidemic, the organization says. “I will leave it to others to speculate why the FDA has so quickly changed its mind,” said Eakin. “Regardless, leaving menthol e-cigs on the market is good for the vaping industry and bad for kids.”  

From the ATS statement:

“[The ATS] is disappointed that the Administration chose to not follow through on its September 2019 promise to clear the market of all flavored electronic nicotine delivery [products],” the organization said in a news release. “The fact that youth e-cigarette use grew by nearly 40 percent in one year should make preventing children from being able to access all vaping products an immediate priority. We continue to urge Congress to pass legislation that bans all e-cigarette flavors, including menthol for all e-cigarette products and not just pod cartridges.”