The UK are very lucky in the way the government have approached vaping when compared to many other countries in the world. Of course, a lot of what the TPD has imposed is nonsense but the rules still allow us to vape and I think they had their hands tied by Brussels to a certain extent. Public Health England published a review to say e-cigarettes were 95% safer than traditional cigarettes, you can read more on that here – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-independent-expert-e-cigarettes-evidence-review

So to me it appears as if the UK government are committed to stopping people smoking and recognise vaping as the single best tool to make this happen.

People in the USA are not so lucky. E-cigarettes have been classified as a tobacco product and the FDA are beginning to regulate them very heavily. Much like Europe’s TPD regulations only much, much worse. Anything e-cigarette related needs to be submitted for testing, that includes e-liquid, tanks, coils, mods and everything in between. The FDA has estimated the cost for each premarket review pathway for newly regulated tobacco products to be between $1500 and $466,000 and expects most review costs to be between $117,000 and $466,000. Potentially putting most small to medium sized businesses in the industry at great risk of closing their doors. Like the TPD, each e-liquid recipe and variation would need its own review, so big e-liquid brands like elements or 12 monkeys with 20+ recipes and 5 or 6 nicotine content variations would potentially have to stump up tens of millions of dollars in order to be able to sell e-liquids in the USA.

Why is this happening?

The FDA claim there is a major vaping epidemic amongst teenagers in the USA. From my own research it seems that they are ignoring some keys facts when looking at this “epidemic”. Whilst teenagers may be vaping more, they are smoking much less. The data below tells a completely different story to the FDAs standpoint.

Year data collected Percentage of 12th grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily.
1976 28.8
1980 21.3
1984 18.7
1988 18.1
1992 17.2
1996 22.2
2000 20.6
2004 15.6
2008 11.4
2012 9.3
2016 4.8

Source: Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2019). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use 1975-2018: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Retrieved from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2018.pdf – PDF .

The percentage of 12th grade students in 2018 who reported vaping nicotine rose to 21% from 11% in 2017, so there is clearly a problem there but balance those statistics against the reduced number of students smoking and they don’t seem so bad.

The purpose of e-cigarettes are to give people a healthier alternative to smoking. It’s no good claiming there’s a vaping epidemic when people choose the healthier option – that’s insane. It’s like banning meat and then complaining people are eating too many grains and vegetables.

Should teens be vaping? No, of course not, but it’s better than them smoking and that is something that should always be at the forefront of their minds when regulating these things. It’s all about harm reduction. This is of course, presuming that the government has its populations health and best interests at heart. According to data from the US Naval Postgraduate School, there were 94 school gun voilence incidents in 2018 in the USA with 55 people being killed. Throughout America there were 340 mass shootings in 2018 with 373 people being killed and 1347 being wounded, but vaping is the epidemic that needs tackling…

If they truly wanted to stop teens vaping surely they could more heavily regulate the sales to minors? With bigger penalties for businesses caught selling e-cigarettes to the underage and penalties for the children caught vaping? What about banning online sales? Or some sort of license that needs to be obtained before you can buy products?

In effect, the FDA will be punishing the hobbiest vaper as these are the products made by smaller companies that wont be able to afford to have their products tested and the very products that minors tend to use (Juul type pod systems) will be the only things on sale as these are the companies that can afford the legislation. THIS MAKES NO SENSE!

So if its not a teen vaping epidemic, what is it?

We can only speculate here but it seems pretty obvious to me. There are two reasons to heavily regulate e-cigarettes in America and they both boil down to money.

  1. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA is an agreement originally between the largest united states tobacco companies – Philip Morris, R.J Reynolds, Brown and Williamson and Lorillard – the “original participating manufacturers” and the attorneys general of 46 states. The states settled lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of their tobacco-related health-care costs. In exchange, the companies agreed to curtail or cease certain tobacco marketing practises, as well as to pay, in perpetuity, various annual payments to the states to compensate them for some of the medical costs of caring for persons with smoking-related illnesses. In the MSA, the original participating manufacturers (OPM) agreed to pay a minimum of $206 billion over the first 25 years of the agreement. The amount of money that they are required to annually contribute to the states varies according to several factors. All payments are based primarily on the number of cigarettes sold.
  2. Unlike the UK, USA citizens pay for their own health care costs. If their government had to pay for the treatment of smoking related diseases, it’s possible they would be much more invested in the health of their population.

How does this effect the UK?

Unfortunately, this affects us massively. A lot of the companies we use are American and they all seem to be taking this totalitarian approach to vaping. Facebook have recently changed their terms and conditions which has resulted in some vaping groups being deleted. Google has begun removing vaping apps from its google play store. Ebay are changing their payment providers from Paypal to Adyen who will not accept payments related to vaping equipment. Youtube are demonetising vaping videos. It’s all going off! It’s also very possible that this is just the beginning. We may see google omitting vaping related search results and Paypal banning payments for the sales of e-cigarettes. Not to mention all the American products that are likely to be withdrawn from the market.

What can we do?

The short answer is not a lot. I don’t see there being anything we can do really. Boycott the companies doing this? I doubt it will have much effect, but I suppose it’s something at least. Are people going to actually do this? No, no there not. These companies have monopolies in these sectors, and nobody wants to change payment providers or social media apps. Instead we’ll lie back and watch it happen. Like a lil’ bitch.

It’s these companies’ prerogatives to change their terms and conditions at any time but I feel like they should still have a conscience. When it’s all boiled down they will be directly effecting the amount of people that take up vaping and over time, this will contribute to the amount of deaths by smoking related diseases.