MIL-OSI USA: ***Video***Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Releases Alarming Report on the Youth Vaping Epidemic

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for Connecticut – Richard Blumenthal

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), released the Subcommittee’s new report titled “The Youth Vaping Epidemic: Federal Regulation of E-cigarettes and the Rise of Juul and Puff Bar.” The report, a culmination of a four-year-long investigation by PSI, found the new youth nicotine addiction epidemic can be traced back to key federal regulatory failures by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), executive branch officials, and other regulators, and the exploitation of the FDA’s weaknesses by e-cigarette companies.

“In revealing certain never-before-heard details of these companies’ strategies, this report illustrates how the FDA’s iterative approach to regulating the e-cigarette industry and addressing the youth vaping crisis has failed,” Blumenthal wrote in the report’s forward, referencing the findings from more than 713,000 of pages of documents and interviews from e-cigarette manufacturers JUUL and Puff Bar and federal regulators reviewed by PSI. “Because of these failures, youth use of e-cigarettes remains nearly three times higher than a decade ago. While there has been some recent progress in combatting the youth vaping epidemic, it is not nearly enough. Much more must be done, and quickly, to ensure that even more youth do not become hooked on an addictive substance that could impact the rest of their lives.”

Click HERE for the full video of PSI Chair Blumenthal discussing the report

PSI’s report found that the federal government missed a crucial opportunity to curb youth e-cigarette use in 2016. When drafting its “deeming” regulation, the FDA initially included language that would have required flavored tobacco products to be removed from the market unless and until they received FDA authorization. However, this language was removed from the final 2016 regulation during the interagency review process by senior executive branch officials over concerns about a lack of data, potential harms to the vaping and tobacco industry, and threats of industry lawsuits. In addition, subsequent regulatory efforts by the FDA—including extensions of compliance deadlines and prioritizing enforcement of certain types of e-cigarette products—have failed to curtail unauthorized e-cigarette products and prevent youth usage.

PSI’s report also reveals how e-cigarette companies JUUL and subsequently Puff Bar depended on flavors both companies knew appealed to youth to bolster their profits and popularity. JUUL’s “Vaporized” ads promoted the company and its products as “colorful, approachable, dynamic, and fun.” A former JUUL employee told the Subcommittee the company failed to consider how it might appeal to youth. Public backlash led to changes in the ads, but JUUL continued to resonate with younger demographics. Puff Bar, which entered the U.S. market in 2019 and admitted to “trying to be like JUUL,” quickly became the most popular brand of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students, and its current co-CEOs said that non-traditional flavors popular among youth were “critical” and “extremely important” to their business model.

With thousands of disposable e-cigarette products currently sold in a variety of flavors, the report outlines a list of recommendation to curb the youth vaping epidemic, including improving FDA’s enforcement capabilities along with those of other federal agencies, increasing public awareness of the dangers of e-cigarette use, and implementing additional reforms to protect young people from the harms of nicotine.

The full PSI report, including the detailed list of findings and recommendations, can be found here and the appendix can be found here.