As it turns out, making cigarettes more high tech doesn’t make them any better for you (at least, if you drink what’s inside). In recent months, emergency cases of liquid nicotine poisoning have increased across the country, prompting an FDA probe into the substance. While smoking traditional cigarettes has declined among Americans, the use of e-cigarettes and vaporizing devices has increased over this time last year, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. And this new popularity of e-cigarettes and their sister devices has prompted a whole new set of concerns within the health community, especially when it comes to accidental exposure of nicotine (in any form) to children and infants.
On Tuesday, the FDA called for “comments, data, research results or other information that may inform regulatory actions FDA might take” in a 15-page “notice of proposed rulemaking” geared towards the creation of further warning labels on liquid nicotine and other tobacco products. This will be particularly prevalent amongst high school smokers, who represent a significant portion of the e-cigarette smoking population. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “e-cigarette use among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, while conventional cigarette smokers dropped from 12.7 percent to 9.2 percent over that same time period.” The e-cigarette industry is now estimated to make an annual $2.1 billion in sales.
In a statement, Susan Liss, executive director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, applauded the FDA’s new move towards regulation of the industry, which it had previously left untouched. Said Liss, “We’re pleased that the FDA is taking this step, but this is not a replacement for quickly issuing a final, strong deeming rule that regulates all tobacco products and addresses flavors and marketing.”
The vaping industry has shot back, insisting that its warning labels are already clear enough, and that the FDA should not misrepresent information. Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, told the New York Times, “Poorly designed warning labels have the capacity to mislead adult smokers on the relative risks of vaping versus tobacco smoking. Any proposed warning must be thoroughly tested to ensure that it only imparts factual information.”
And the fact of the matter is, liquid nicotine is dangerous, and the FDA is finally taking a stand against it.