Juul e-cigarettes banned: Is FDA right?

Gabby Jones / Bloomberg

Fact Box

  • On July 23, 2022, The US Food and Drug Administration announced the removal of all JUUL Labs Inc. products marketed in the United States, which includes the JUUL device and four types of JUULpods. The company was not able to provide sufficient evidence that met the FDA’s standards or address the “rise in youth vaping.”
  • In March 2022, the FDA approved ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) products after they “demonstrated that marketing of the products is appropriate for the protection of the public health.”
  • In 2021, the CDC reported that 9.3% of middle and high school students had used a tobacco product: e-cigarettes were the most popular of those products. 
  • According to the CDC, 3.7% of adults used e-cigarettes in 2020; of users, 36.9% smoked cigarettes, 39.5% formerly smoked cigarettes, and 23.6% had never smoked cigarettes in 2019.

Elisa (No)

The FDA has recently banned JUUL e-cigarette products, claiming they are largely responsible for the teen vaping epidemic. However, this supposed epidemic is a myth, with vaping rising among adults and falling in teens. Outlawing JUUL may do more harm than good, as vaping is 95% safer than regular smoking. 

While the FDA is targeting JUUL for the chemical makeup of its brand, Joe Murillo, the chief regulatory officer at JUUL Labs, states that its products meet public health standards, even when compared to other combustible cigarettes or other vapor products. Besides, many use e-cigarettes to stop smoking regular cigarettes because they are much less harmful, and without e-cigarettes, both teens and adults will likely turn to more dangerous substances like tobacco, which is more damaging in the long run. 

Again, Juul was criticized for its widespread use amongst teens. While teens should avoid drugs and alcohol, the reality is that if teens are going to engage in this sort of 'recreational activity' anyway, e-cigarettes are often a safer alternative. The FDA's attack on Juul is a general, unsubstantiated attack on e-cigarettes altogether, misrepresenting what the science really says about their risks and effects. 

Quite frankly, there is an irrational war against e-cigarettes, and while no e-cigarette is perfectly healthy, the claims by the FDA are simply misguided. The ban on JUUL will have 'unintended consequences for public health and criminal justice.' Historically, movements like the prohibition of alcohol were disastrous, and the prohibition of vaping will not be any different. The truth is that there is a war on vaping, not just JUUL, and if the war on drugs didn't work, neither will the war on vapes.

Jared (Yes)

Juul Labs was founded in 2015 by Stanford graduates Adam Bowen and James Monsees. Their goal was to make cigarettes 'less carcinogenic and foul-smelling, and more socially acceptable.' Unfortunately, while Juul accomplished these goals, its business model failed to address the root problem of cigarettes. 

Juul's early advertising campaigns focused on its sleek design and flavored e-cigarettes and marketed the product to adolescents and young adults. An explosion in popularity amongst teens has raised health concerns, as nicotine can harm adolescent brain development and act as a gateway to cigarettes and other drugs. In addition, E-cigarettes replace the carcinogenic ingredients like tar found in cigarettes with higher levels of nicotine; this makes them even more addictive. A 2017 study even found that adolescents who vape are up to 20% more likely to smoke cigarettes. 

The beginning of the 19th century saw a meteoric rise in the popularity of cigarettes, which were glamorized on movie screens and became a staple of American culture. Likewise, the e-cigarette is ascending to a similar place in modern society, where young people constantly see smoking and vaping in mainstream media. Juul even claims responsibility for the decreasing smoking numbers since its foundation. However, smoking has decreased amongst adolescents and adults for decades because of government restrictions and increased public awareness about its ill effects.   

Juul's cigarette solution was switching the source of addiction rather than eliminating it. Banning Jull e-cigarettes is the correct decision because society needs to work towards entirely eradicating cigarettes instead of replacing them. The FDA's ban is an opportunity to break a century-old addiction cycle.

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