Abby was the only person directly hurt by the On Point broadcast, but she wasn’t the target. The coordinated campaign against JUUL has reached just about every American by now, through newspaper and magazine articles, local and national TV news broadcasts, live seminars offered to parents by local anti-drug groups, and grandstanding speeches by politicians.
The frenzy around the JUUL is being stoked by longtime vaping opponents like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Truth Initiative, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their other target, of course, is e-liquid flavors, which are under review by the FDA. The FDA attempted to ban flavors in 2016, and there’s no reason to think they don’t still have that intention.
Those groups are all part of a new lawsuit against the FDA aimed at forcing the agency to reinstate its original August 2018 deadline for vape manufacturers to submit premarket tobacco applications (PMTA’s) for their existing products. They may be hoping the campaign against JUUL will give the FDA an excuse to take action sooner than the scheduled 2022 deadline.
A flavor ban would kill most of the independent American vape industry, leaving only JUUL as an obstacle to eliminating vaping. It’s important that all vapers support JUUL — and likewise for JUUL to show solidarity with the smaller vaping companies. No one in the vaping industry is marketing to kids or selling to them. Rather, the forces lined up against vaping are terrified that vaping might actually now be threatening cigarettes in a real way.
The goal for anti-vaping forces is to whip up enough fear, uncertainty and doubt among parents and school staff that they will help pressure the FDA to ban flavors and restrict the sales and marketing of vapes. There are Reefer Madness-like elements to the mania over JUUL, with authority figures like high school principals and pediatricians breathlessly counting down a list of terrible consequences for our children if we can’t stop the awful threat.
The only problem is that there is no actual evidence that teen use of the JUUL is exploding, as they keep insisting it is.
“The media reports of a teenage juuling ‘epidemic’ do not add up with population studies that show regular use of these products by never smokers to be very low,” University of Waterloo (Ontario) sociologist Amelia Howard told Vaping360 in a recent article. “The juuling stories have the classic hallmarks of a moral panic: widespread fear based on exaggerated risk.”
Listening to the On Point show, Abby agreed. “It felt very rushed and didn’t have much solid evidence or content about Juul use in schools,” she says. “They focus on the fact that these pod vaping devices use nicotine salts (they don’t use that term though), which provide a rush or buzz similar to a cigarette and say that’s what gets underage teens addicted.
“However,” she added, “this is also what helps many adults quit smoking cigarettes.”