There’s been a torrent of negative media coverage surrounding the nation’s most popular e-cigarette — JUUL. Lurid stories of addicted teens vaping in bathrooms appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NBC, and dozens of other media outlets.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Sally Satel and Americans for Tax Reform’s Paul Blair took on some of the scaremongering around teen JUUL use at Forbes and the Washington Examiner respectively. Public health expert Clive Bates also wrote a helpful guide for journalists seeking to cover teen vaping and JUUL use accurately and dispassionately.
Eleven Democratic senators wrote to JUUL’s CEO Kevin Burns and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb demanding action to curb youth JUUL use and ban so-called “kid-friendly candy and fruit flavorings.” Speaking to Congress this week, Gottlieb indicated the FDA will be taking action in the very near future to restrict access to vaping products to minors.
Reason’s Guy Bentley was published in Real Clear Health arguing the FDA’s plan to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes to minimally addictive or non-addictive levels is unnecessary and would result in a host of unintended consequences.
Vermont’s Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on HB 922, which would impose a 46 percent wholesale tax on vapor products.
Florida voters will decide this November whether to ban vaping in public spaces including restaurants and workplaces after the Florida Constitution Revision Commission approved a series of amendments to the state’s constitution to be put on the ballot.
A bill that would raise Connecticut’s minimum legal purchase age for tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21 was voted out of the Committee on Public Health by a vote of 22–4 in support of the bill. The bill will now have to be voted on by the Senate and, if successful, will go to the House for debate and a final vote.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a budget that includes a $1 per pack tax increase on cigarettes and an equivalent increase on little cigars.
Alaska’s House Rules Committee passed an amended version of Senate Bill 63, which would ban smoking in the workplace. Originally, vaping was originally included in the ban but was stripped out before being scheduled to move onto the House floor.
Science and Harm Reduction
Scientists are calling for the retraction of a controversial article published in Pediatrics, which claims teen e-cigarette use is “positively and independently associated with progression to current established smoking.” The original article was authored by Professor Stanton Glantz and colleagues.
Professor Brad Rodu and et al used the same FDA survey data as Glantz to reproduce the analysis. While Glantz’s paper attributed teen smoking to e-cigarette use, according to Rodu, he ignored prior cigarette consumption. When Rodu’s team included the prior cigarette consumption variable, the e-cigarette effect disappeared. Rodu and colleagues are calling for Glantz’s paper to be retracted. Further details can be found on Rodu’s blog here and here.
An article in the latest edition of the Brooklyn Law Review argues the FDA’s Deeming Rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act. Lauren H. Greenberg, a J.D. candidate at Brooklyn Law School, argues the rule violates the APA because the FDA: “failed to perform the thorough cost-benefit analysis that the APA requires, and instead passed arbitrary, burdensome legislation without considering alternative avenues of regulation.”
In the current issue of The Lancet, Larry Summers argues one of the most often cited objections to sin taxes, namely that they’re regressive, is incorrect. To reach this conclusion Summers redefines regressive in order to show that taxing the poor improves their health and longevity and is therefore progressive.
Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs responded in Spectator Health. “The regressive financial effects are real and well-evidenced whereas the ‘progressive’ health effects only exist in the spreadsheets of ‘public health’ computer models,” writes Snowdon.
“The challenge for the agency is to see through this smoke screen, devise a thoughtful regulatory regime for non-combustibles, and resist the false choice between sacrificing smokers and protecting teens,” — Sally Satel, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
What’s Coming Up
The Public Health Law Center will be holding a webinar on April 26 focusing on Juul and its popularity with youth & young adults.
The fifth Global Forum on Nicotine will be held in Warsaw, Poland, June 14-16. Registration is now open.