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Discusses the Future of the Vapor Industry and Teen â??Epidemicâ?�

Posted by [email protected] on March 23, 2019 at 8:30 PM

SFATA Meets with CTP: Discusses the Future of the Vapor Industry and Teen “Epidemic”


“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.“ - Rick Warren


This sentiment holds true for the onslaught of negative publicity surrounding the nation’s teen “epidemic” and the looming threat of bans on flavored vapor products as a corrective measure.


And so, on January 23rd, SFATA leadership once again met with Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) Director, Mitch Zeller, to give him another perspective and remind him how a flavor ban would be detrimental to public health.


Present from SFATA were Executive Director Mark Anton, Board President April Meyers, SFATA’s Federal Lobbyist Mike Hogan, SFATA’s legal counsel Azim Chowdhury, Board Treasurer Robert Arnold, and Schell Hammel, representing the Y.E.P.P. program.


After exchanging pleasantries, SFATA leadership dug into the teen issue, challenging FDA’s claim that the current vaping "epidemic" is due to the appeal of flavors among youth, and offering a very different perspective: one that had not yet been presented but needed to be heard -- that the surge in youth usage was not related to flavors, but rather, to a very particular product with high nicotine salt concentration.


In its endeavor to push the narrative on flavors as the cause of youth uptake, FDA missed many signs that the underlying factors might be something totally different, and this revelation appeared to take CTP by surprise.

SFATA leadership continued to press on the unintended consequence of FDA’s flavor causation messaging. We pointed out the result clearly and concisely; that we now see local and state governments implementing flavor bans that are detrimental to public health (as flavor bans have been shown to increase smoking) - yet continue to allow the sale of high nicotine concentrations.


This erroneous path allows adulterated products to litter the landscape and keeps potentially harmful concentrations of nicotine in the hands of consumers and, more importantly, teens.


As one solution to our common problem of youth use, we suggested that FDA create a working group of industry representatives and members of CTP. The goal would be to explore the real underlying cause of youth uptake and to create consensus between FDA and the industry on an actionable plan that keeps flavors in the hands of adult consumers. Another suggestion was the Y.E.P.P. program as a tool to assist in educating the public on issues regarding vaping.


As our dialogue on the youth issue continued, we discussed the use of Juul and other similar products that have a high nicotine salt concentration. In short, these products, rather than flavors, facilitate youth experimentation, and we reiterated that youth are “chasing the buzz” created by those high nicotine salt strengths.


Zeller cited data that flavors are the primary cause of youth experimentation, going as far back as 2015 PATH studies.


Stiff in our resolve, we rebutted that flavors are not the primary reason for use in those studies. We relayed personal anecdotes drawn from our vast industry experience and pointed out that the United Kingdom shows a dramatically lower rate for youth uptake, attributing this to their regulatory limits on nicotine content.

Although we discussed a number of other matters during the course of our hour-long meeting, the youth issue lies at the core of our most immediate threats, and so the majority of our time was spent on this topic.


Upon conclusion of our meeting, and based on post-meeting conversations with included CTP officials, we felt strongly that follow-up was required.


You can read our follow-up letter to the FDA on our meeting HERE.


SFATA believes the FDA’s messaging on flavors as the sole cause for youth uptake is misguided. This false narrative is being used against us in cities, counties, states, and federally where politicians are lining up to implement legislation to ban flavors.


SFATA believes flavors are of critical importance to adults switching from combustible cigarettes and vehemently rejects Altria’s recent suggestion of banning all flavors except tobacco, mint, and menthol until the youth epidemic is “under control.” If flavor bans increase smoking of combustibles, as Yale researchers suggest here, then Juul/Altria benefits either way.


We believe this rather convenient lie is being used to put brick and mortar stores out of business while increasing market share for JUUL/Altria and ask what you, the vapor industry, is willing to do to about it?


Will you continue to defend JUUL simply because they exist in the vapor space?


Or are you going to defend your business from Big Tobacco ploys?


This fundamental question must be answered by all of us as we face T21 bills across the nation lobbied for by JUUL and Altria as the solution to the problem they created.


In many of the states facing T21, taxation is being used to compensate for the revenue losses in sales to adults aged 18 to 20, and many of you are being asked to accept this as inevitable.


We’d like you to think long and hard on WHO is asking for that acceptance, because it most certainly is not US.

What we are asking is this:


Will you join with SFATA and other organizations in the JUUL-FREE ZONE?


Will you fight for what we built together -- an industry that save lives?


If the answer is YES, then we urge you -- JOIN SFATA in this fight, and CLAIM THIS INDUSTRY THAT IS BEING STOLEN FROM US!




Thank you!


Mark Anton

SFATA Executive Director

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