Curbing the Teen Nicotine Epidemic: Are Fruit Pods Destroying Our Generation?

The FDA is cracking down on teen JUUL use. After the JUUL corporation failed to abide by the FDA’s order to take action to curb teen JUUL use, the FDA is taking matters into its own hands by banning the sale of “kid-friendly” flavors, such as mango, in gas stations. 

According to mashable.com, flavored pods “might be the easiest runway into vaping,” with 81.5 percent of current youth e-cigarette users stating they use e-cigarettes because they come in likable flavors. The flavored pods will continue to be sold at places such as vape shops, where minors are less likely to try to purchase them. 

Illustration By Matthew Maciag

 “If it’s really urgent, they sell unicorn puke e-liquids, and if they want to sell a product like that, it better be an age restricted location,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s center for tobacco products. “If it’s not, and if we see it, that product is going to have to come off the market.”

“I personally believe it will make little to no difference when it comes to teens unlawfully utilizing nicotine products,” said Summer Sellers ’19. “Kids will simply ask someone older to buy the flavored pods online for them. When I was in middle and high school, kids would ask older kids to buy them cigarettes. I think the same pattern will ensue, even with the ban of flavored JUUL pods at gas stations.”

 Hannah Warden ’19 agreed; “Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, and I don’t think that making fruit flavors less available will stop kids who are already hooked,” said Warden. “They will settle for gross flavors if it means getting nicotine.”  

From what Scott Gottlieb FDA commissioner calls an “epidemic of vaping,” over 3.6 million middle and high school students have reported using the new smoking devices this year, an increase of over 1.5 million students than the previous year. Studies have also shown that flavor preferences drive vaping more for teens than they do for adults.  

“It’s the exact reason that flavored cigarettes were banned,” said Oberlin psychology professor, Meghan Morean. “We’re not reinventing anything here, we’ve already lived this.” 

The agency will not immediately enforce the order, as to give the market some time to transition.  However, the FDA hopes to see flavored pods off of shelves in places “accessible to kids” within the next ninety days.  “These increases [in teen JUUL usage] must stop,” said Gottlieb. “I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.”

 

Erica Williams

Erica Williams

Erica has been reporting for the Catalyst since her freshman year. She is a history-poly-sci and REMs double major. Interestingly, her grandfather fixed Einstein's furnace.

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