The FDA Is Threatening To Take Juuls Off The Market Because Every Teenager Is Sucking 'Em Down

NY Times- Warning that teenage use of electronic cigarettes has reached “an epidemic proportion,” the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday gave Juul Labs and four other makers of popular vaping devices 60 days to prove they can keep them away from minors. If they fail, the agency said, it may take the flavored products off the market.

The order was part of a sweeping action that targeted both makers and sellers of e-cigarettes. The agency said it was sending warning letters to 1,100 retailers — including 7-Eleven stores, Walgreens, Circle K convenience shops and Shell gas stations — and issued another 131 fines, for selling e-cigarettes to minors.

The government’s aggressive tactics underscore a dilemma in the public health community: In addressing one public health problem — cigarette smoking, which kills 480,000 people in the United States each year — e-cigarettes are creating another — hooking teenagers who have never smoked on nicotine.

“Inevitably what we are going to have to contemplate are actions that may narrow the off-ramp for adults who see e-cigarettes as a viable alternative to combustible tobacco in order to close the on ramp for kids,” Dr. Gottlieb said. “It’s an unfortunate trade-off.”

According to the agency, more than two million middle and high school students were regular users of e-cigarettes last year. Dr. Gottlieb made it clear that he did not think the companies have done enough to stop them.

Wow. Can you imagine if the FDA took Juuls off the shelves? The entire country would crumble to ashes. Kids would start smoking cigs at a rate we’ve never seen. You’d have 17-year-olds with grey gums and bloodshot eyes, chainsmoking camels through shaky fingers in Wawa parking lots, begging incoming customers to buy them another pack. Juuls would become a blackmarket good, and smart dealers would hold on to them as the supply dwindled, selling them for thousands of dollars a stick (?) in 2030 to bachelor/ette parties looking to recapture the buzz of high school years. They would go the way of quaaludes– referred to nostalgically, then whispered of as mythical capsules that once were.

I was on a bachelor party recently, and the groom’s younger brother, who is 18, told me that 85% of his graduating high school class owned a Juul. 85%. If you’re part of the 15% that doesn’t vape, you’re either a total outcast or you’re already moving on to the next thing because you’re over it. That would be cool: to be so far ahead of the curve that you’re the first wave of kids who have moved on from vaping. Typically, these kids lay down their nicotine devices and pick up something with a little more punch– like heroin. Cooooooool.

Juul, and other nicotine-vaping devices, serve a great purpose for people trying to kick a cigarette addiction. To invoke another parallel to heroin, these gadgets are to cigarettes what methadone is to heroin. It helps people who itch and scratch for a delicious ciggy treat, but who also want to speak to their grandchildren without the help of some auto-tuning robot machine that would send the little ones screaming for cover.

The problem is, the high schoolers turned them into a must-have accessory. It’s a totem of indifference, a fog machine that tells a disgruntled ex to fuck off without forcing you to say the words. Just exhale and send them on their way like a disgraceful magic trick. These kids are starting the nicotine journey at the half-way house. They’ve flipped the system on its head, and I think it’s high time we start encouraging them to smoke real cigarettes like in days of yore. That way, they can inch to the precipice of total self-ruin before deciding to return to their vape pens as a means of self-preservation.

Unless a meddling government agency gets in the way first.