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FDA vaping news: first-ever e-cigarette approved in U.S

FDA vaping news is a hot topic right now, and in what’s sure to go down as a landmark moment in the U.S, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the sale of a handful of vape products for the very first time.

After declaring that the benefits of some e-cigarettes outweigh the risks – something countless studies have shown for a number of years now – the FDA gave the green light to a trio of vaping products it deems safe for use.

“Today’s authorizations are an important step toward ensuring all new tobacco products undergo the FDA’s robust, scientific pre-market evaluation. The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption – by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals,” the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products Mitch Zeller, J.D, said.

Each of the approved products are manufactured by R.J Reynolds (RJR) Vapor Company, and include the Vuse Solo e-cigarette along with the replacement cartridges used in the device. 

Many more waiting for approval

  • Thousands of manufacturers awaiting decision
  • America’s largest manufacturer among those waiting to learn their fate
  • Over 55,000 already seen application rejected

Currently, there are thousands of manufacturers awaiting a decision on their applications, so it’s hoped more will soon follow. Many of these companies have been waiting for over a year to learn their fate, so they’ll be looking out for any FDA vaping news and hoping the regulator puts them out of their misery soon!

One of the companies waiting with bated breath to see if it’ll get the go-ahead is Juul, the U.S’s leading manufacturer of vaping products with over 40% market share. If Juul sees its application rejected, this will no doubt have major ramifications for the U.S vaping market.

Any company that sees their application turned down must then remove it from the market, or face enforcement. Perhaps tellingly, so far only tobacco-flavoured products have been approved and every application for a flavoured product has been knocked back.

As it stands, over 55,000 marketing applications for flavoured e-cigarette products have been rejected by the FDA, which said there was insufficient evidence these products were beneficial to public health.

So what does the evidence say?

  • Vaping products twice as effective as other NRTs
  • Those using e-cigarettes up to 95% more likely to report successful quit attempt
  • Every year almost half a million people die from smoking-related illness in United States

To say there’s insufficient evidence flavoured vape products benefit public health is downright irresponsible considering countless studies have shown vaping is hands-down the most effective nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

A great example of this is the research carried out by the UCL (University of London). This study demonstrated that people using e-cigarettes to quit smoking in England, where flavoured e-liquids are widely available, are around 95% more likely to succeed.

Every year an estimated 480,000 people a year die from smoking-related illness in the U.S – more than alcohol, illegal drugs, murders, suicides and car accidents combined – so to see the FDA rejecting so many applications when it’s proven these products could save so many lives is extremely worrying to say the least.

fda vaping news - e-cigarettes approved

Why is the FDA suddenly involved in the regulation of vaping?

The FDA was given the power to regulate new tobacco/nicotine products more than a decade ago, but while it plays an active role in regulating the tobacco industry, only recently has it chosen to exercise those powers for vape products. Indeed, e-cigarettes have been sold legally in the country for around a decade, so why has the FDA only now decided the industry is in need of tighter regulation?

The decision to take a more hands-on approach comes amid recent calls in the country for stricter controls on vaping. This is in spite of mountains of evidence which proves vaping could help a large proportion of the 16 million American smokers overcome their health-destroying and life-threatening habit.

During the Trump administration, the U.S government introduced stricter laws on vaping by imposing a partial ban on flavoured e-cigarettes. The reasoning behind this was that flavoured products are supposedly attractive to young people and vaping could eventually act as a gateway to smoking. This is also the reason given by the FDA for its swathe of rejections.

Refuted theory that just won’t go away

The idea that flavoured e-cigarettes encourage youths to take up vaping which eventually leads to smoking is one that’s been proven false time and time again.

Not only does data published this year reveal that the use of vaping products among teens in the U.S has declined for the second year running, but there’s no evidence to show that vaping acts as a gateway to smoking for young people.

Moreover, a study carried out by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) demonstrated that the use of e-cigarettes among young people in the UK is also falling (11.2% of 11-17 year-olds in 2021 compared to 13.9% in 2020). Interestingly, the survey also revealed a large majority of 11-17-year-olds were either unaware of, or hadn’t tried, e-cigarettes, and it showed children under 16 were the most unlikely group to try vaping products. Speaking about the study, the group said “regular use remains low”.

This research by ASH is particularly interesting, because it was conducted on youths in the UK where the sale of flavoured e-liquids is permitted. Surely if flavoured vape products were so enticing to youths, the number of young people vaping here would be climbing not falling? 

Put simply, this is a theory we hear all the time, but as of yet nobody has been able to put forward any proof that shows either flavoured e-liquids encourage young people to vape, or that vaping is a major issue among teens. On the contrary, smoking continues to be a far bigger health issue – among both teens and adults!

fda vaping news

Consequences of limiting market

The FDA only began processing applications for vape products in late summer, so it’s still quite early to say for sure what the regulator’s full stance on flavoured e-liquids is. That being said, early signs suggest that most, if not all, flavoured products could see their application rejected. 

If this is the case, with choice severely limited it could well lead to many vapers returning to their old habit of smoking which would represent a giant step backwards and could potentially put millions of lives at risk once again.

All we can do is keep our eye on any FDA vaping news and hope the regulator starts to assess the evidence more rigorously which should give them a clearer view of the facts, leading to more vaping products being sanctioned. This would ensure vapers across the pond have access to more choice, which can only mean less people smoking conventional cigarettes.

If you’d like some transparent information on how vaping impacts your health, take a look at our Vaping Health Facts guide.