Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced its long-awaited e-cigarette regulations. The new rules, subject to approval, will require more stringent age verification for people buying flavored nicotine. In a statement announcing the rules, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes but said he was shocked at how widespread teen e-cigarette usage is, which he believes makes kids more likely to try smoking.
On Tuesday vaping giant Juul preemptively announced it would temporarily stop selling flavored nicotine vapor pods to retail stores, until they impose strict age verification mechanisms, like ID scanners. And on Juul’s website, users will have to provide the last four digits of their social security number to buy flavored pods.
But all of the new rules from the FDA probably won’t stop the army of kids on sites like Youtube and Instagram who are essentially evangelists for the coolness of vaping. Juul doesn’t sponsor any of these influencers. They get their money from companies that make third party Juul pods, other vape juices, or bigger vape rigs.
Juul has transformed the e-cigarette landscape in just a couple years. It’s now worth 15 billion dollars and controls 70% of the market. In other words, it has a lot to lose. Juuls have been incredibly easy to get, and incredibly easy to hide. And that’s made them a hit among high schoolers. Kids can hit the Juul in class without their teacher noticing, and school administrators have been begging for a solution.
So ahead of the FDA’s ruling, Juul moved to appease regulators, not just with the pause on flavors, but also by deleting its Facebook and Instagram accounts, so that it wouldn’t be seen as marketing to kids. But Dash Drips and Donny Smokes have no plans to stop posting.
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