The U.S. Remains Politically Divided on Vaping Products, With Democrats And Republicans Pushing in Different Directions

While a group of US Democratic Senators are ignoring local data and pressing on with their battle against the non-existent teen vaping epidemic, a group of Republicans are urging Biden to speed up the PMTA process in order to have more safer alternatives available for smokers.

A group of left wing US senators focused on combating youth vaping, are urging major convenience store chains to remove unauthorized vaping products from their shelves. Sadly, their efforts overlook the growing data on both youth and adult e-cigarette use in the country, more specifically the increasing number of adults relying on vapes to stay smoke-free, as well as the declining youth vaping rates.

In fact, teen vaping in states represented by these same lawmakers have declined, while adult rates have increased, highlighting the need for a shift in focus towards reducing smoking-related harm among adults. The senators’ anti-vaping crusade fails to address the reality of declining youth vaping rates and hinders access to e-cigarettes for adults seeking smoke-free alternatives.

Republicans urge Biden to make novel nicotine products available for adult smokers
In contrast, a group of nearly 70 House Republican led by Rep. Richard Hudson, have urged President Joe Biden to expedite the approval process for smoke-free tobacco products through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in order to provide more options for smokers seeking to quit.

They emphasized that the FDA’s delay in approving these products not only limits choices for American smokers but also contributes to the influx of illicit nicotine-containing products from markets like China, which often target youth. The letter highlights the potential of smoke-free products to help smokers quit based on scientific research.

Since the FDA began regulating vapes in 2016, only 23 vaping products have been authorized through the PMTA process, while thousands remain in regulatory limbo. And despite over 26 million applications since 2009, only 50 novel nicotine products have been approved, with fewer than 10 available commercially in the US. While ironically, during the same period the FDA has authorized thousands of combustible tobacco products, despite the fact that their risk profile is undeniably worse than that of vapes. This disparity in product approvals is a joke.

The lawmakers urged the administration to push the FDA to review smoke-free product applications more effectively based on sound science. While acknowledging the risk of underage use, they emphasized that restricting access to products proven effective in smoking cessation is not the solution. The letter comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for stronger regulation of products like Zyn nicotine pouches, prompting conservative lawmakers to argue for their potential in improving public health.

American smokers need every option they can get
Rep. Hudson criticized the FDA for delays in approving alternative products, reiterating the need for swift action to provide Americans with more choices. The Biden administration’s previous plans, including a potential menthol cigarette ban, have faced criticism for concerns over illicit sales and inconsistent enforcement. At least 58 lawmakers have signed the letter, co-led by Reps. Brett Guthrie and Morgan Griffith.

Studies have consistently shown that vaping products present a shift away from combustion, offering a safer alternative to smoking endorsed by numerous Western countries and major health groups. While harsh federal regulations and advocacy against vaping risk increasing cigarette sales. It’s time for policymakers to prioritize harm reduction and support adults in their efforts to quit smoking, rather than continuing efforts that restrict access to potentially life-saving products.