FDA Seeks Comments on Regulation of Flavors in Tobacco Products

The FDA has proposed regulations of e-juice flavors and I wanted to bring it up as we get closer to the deadline for submitting a comment on the Federal Register website.

CASAA and the VTA have also joined forces to develop a template letter that will help you get your own comment started – http://actnow.io/saveflavors

The original deadline was originally in June, but the FDA decided to extend the deadline until July 19, but don’t hold off until the last minute because your comment might take some time to write.

Just to fill you in a little, the FDA has submitted a proposed rule on flavored tobacco products, which will include e-juice because vaping is regulated as tobacco. That means if this proposed rule goes into effect, we may no longer have flavored e-juice, other than tobacco and menthol.

Anyone who vapes can tell you how much that would suck. It would kill the industry and many people would probably just go back to smoking.

One of the ways you can fight back right now would be to submit your comment on the Federal Register which will go to Regulations.gov.

Don’t be offensive in your comment and be mature. That’s how you’ll get them to listen.

Regulations.gov also has a downloadable tip sheet for submitting comments, but here’s the short version.

If you want your comment to matter, it should be constructive and informational. They don’t want an essay, but they want you to support your claims. So if you’re making a scientific claim, you should add scientific evidence to back it up. You can also explain how you will be personally impacted by the rules.

If you disagree with the rule, suggest an alternative. If you have credentials that will set you apart from other comments, such as being a doctor, lawyer, shop owner, or some other relevant expertise, mention that too.

They also ask that you address opposing views in your comment and address the trade-offs. You don’t have to comment on everything, just on the points that matter the most to you.

They’re specifically looking for comments on:

  • The role that flavors play in tobacco use with youth
  • The role that flavors play in helping adult smokers reduce or quit smoking
  • The perceptions that the public has in regards to health risks and addictiveness of flavored tobacco products
  • If certain flavors have potentially negative effects to the user or nearby people
  • What the impact of regulations might be

CASAA published a post on their site that mentions a few points you could discuss, such as how many flavors you use or have currently, how you lock your bottles away from kids, what your favorite flavors are, and where you purchase your e-liquid and why you purchase it there.

Something to point out here is that the FDA is not looking for personal anecdotes unless it’s backed up by data. So for example, if you’re going to talk about how flavors helped you quit smoking, share your personal story, but also point out a study that backs up your claim.

There’s a great spreadsheet listed in the sidebar of the Electronic Cigarette subreddit titled “Scientific Publications” that has tons of vaping studies. Not all of them are pro-vaping, so be sure to review them before picking something at random.

VapeMentors.com has also put together an awesome spreadsheet with a list of pro-vaping studies.

Ok, now here’s the hard part; you need to write the comment. I realize this comment is a little more difficult than these types of things usually are, so I wanted to share my own comment to help get you started. Basically, I shared my quitting story, how flavors played a role, and then I searched for studies related to my main claims.

Ok, so here’s what I wrote.

I am a marketer by trade and a scientific researcher by hobby (particularly in health and fitness). Relevant studies for my comments are listed at the bottom.

I started smoking when I was in middle school and continued until the age of 28, which was when I bought my first electronic cigarette. I started vaping eight years ago with the sole purpose of quitting smoking.

At first, I thought I wanted tobacco flavors, but I quickly found myself using only vanilla, chocolate, and mint flavored e-juice. Part of my goal in quitting smoking was to remove my desire for tobacco, and not vaping tobacco-flavored e-juice was a part of that decision, but also because I liked the flavors much more, which is common among vapers (1).

Over the course of three months, I reduced my nicotine levels from 18mg to 0mg. By the end of the third month, I was completely off cigarettes and I no longer craved nicotine, so I quit vaping too. In my own experience, the nicotine detached from a cigarette was far less addictive, which made quitting easy (2).

I was a non-smoker and non-vaper for five years after quitting, until I started reading studies showing the cognitive benefits of using nicotine (3). At the time, I struggled with attention and focus at work so I decided to try vaping again and it seemed to work. The results were minimal, but enough to make me want to keep doing it, so that’s why I continue to vape today. I don’t vape heavily, just a couple of times per day and I still have not smoked a cigarette since 2010.

Relevant Studies:

1. http://www.ecigarette-research.com/web/index.php/research/2013/145-e-cigarette-flavors – On average, 3 different types of flavors were regularly used by participants, with former smokers switching between flavors more frequently compared to dual users. Participants rated flavors variability as “very important” (score 4 out of 5) in their effort to reduce or completely substitute smoking.

2. https://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(14)01986-3/fulltext – Some e-cigarette users were dependent on nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but these products were less addictive than tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes may be as or less addictive than nicotine gums, which themselves are not very addictive.

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151730/ – An analysis of 41 studies on nicotine and cognitive performance concluded that nicotine had significant positive effects on fine motor skills, attention, accuracy, response time, orienting attention, short-term memory, and working memory.

So that’s it, I hope you found all of this useful and if you haven’t already submitted a comment, please do before it’s too late. Start with the template from CASAA and VTA or go straight to the comment form on the Federal Register site.

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