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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

E-cigarettes receive FDA authorization

A+study+by+the+U.S.+Food+and+Drug+Administration+found+that+3.6+million+middle+and+high+school+students+were+current+e-cigarette+users+in+2018%2C+up+from+2+million+the+year+before.
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

A study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that 3.6 million middle and high school students were current e-cigarette users in 2018, up from 2 million the year before.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, recently authorized the sale of the electronic nicotine delivery system, Vuse Solo, marking the first e-cigarette to be authorized by the FDA. 

Research proved participants were exposed to fewer harmful entities while using these authorized products, as opposed to the damaging use of cigarettes, according to the FDA. The FDA also said in an Oct. 12 press release that it heavily considered the effect authorizing the sales of these e-cigarettes would have on today’s youth when making this decision, and will continue to monitor the production.

Considering the ban of smoking on Texas A&M’s campus, the authorization raises the question of whether or not the FDA’s decision will have any effect on students at A&M or if there will be an increase in smoking among peers. 

“The FDA determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use would outweigh the risk to youth provided the applicant follows post-marketing requirements aimed at reducing youth exposure and access to the products,” the press release reads.

After thoroughly considering the overall health benefits, the FDA has granted the RJR Vapor Company authorization to produce these e-cigarettes under specific guidelines and monterization. This report mentions that with the restrictions on digital, radio and television advertising and the continual reports from this company on the ongoing research of the sales, the FDA will withdraw marketing if problems arise, especially with the underage individuals. 

“In my opinion, the FDA authorizing the sale of e-cigarettes does provide a tacit approval of sorts of these products to youth users,” Lindsay Cross, advanced practice provider for A&M Student Health Services said. “By promoting e-cigarettes as a healthier option than regular cigarettes, I can imagine more young adults will feel comfortable picking up this bad habit. Ultimately, vaping is just as addictive as traditional cigarette smoking and can still have serious health consequences.” 

The FDA approved vaping devices that are specifically tobacco-flavored, therefore possibly reducing youth exposure to these devices, Cross said. Data shows that because younger generations tend to gravitate toward different flavors, they may be less likely to use these specific tobacco flavored products, according to the FDA. 

A psychology student, who requested anonymity, said they think young people will still use tobacco flavor regardless due to the nature of the product’s addictiveness.

“I feel like teenagers gravitate more toward fruity flavors, yes, but also people are going to do it either way — no matter what the FDA says or doesn’t say — because it’s still addictive no matter what,” the student said. 

The FDA is also currently working on reducing the production of different flavors in order to decrease youth expenditures, as mentioned in the news release. 

“The vape vehicle delivery will potentially deliver less carcinogens and lung-damaging pollutants to lungs — hopefully decreasing lung cancer, [Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] and heart disease in the future,” Dr. Tiffany Skaggs, chief medical officer and physician of A&M Student Health Services, said. “What gives me pause is the idea that the FDA is siding with the RJ Reynolds company — a company that has contributed to the huge global burden of disease with their tobacco products.”

While there are many concerns regarding underage individuals, the benefits of alternatives for addicted smokers have the potential for many positive changes. However, Skaggs said with the expanding use of harmful tobacco products throughout history, it’s important to be skeptical when looking at this company and considering the use of their products. 

“It’s a lot healthier than cigarettes, but it’s also just not out long enough for us to know exactly what risks [e-cigarettes] will have in the future,” the student said. “It always changes and our society always changes, and I think the things we put in our bodies will also constantly change.” 

A&M faculty will most likely approach this news the same way they approach smoking in general, the anonymous student said, and prohibit the new e-cigarette use as well. 

“I feel like it’s a good substitute for smoking cigarettes. Yes, there are a lot of alternatives, but I wouldn’t say there [are] a lot of benefits to it. I feel like in the long run it does the same thing. A lot of companies profit off of our addiction and I feel like it’s not going to change,” the student said. 

RJR and the FDA said in the Oct. 12 press release that they will continue to issue verdicts pertaining to the transition of these products to the marketplace and they take the general public health as the utmost importance factor. 

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