Should the FDA limit access to e-cigarettes?
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Should the FDA limit access to e-cigarettes?

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This September, the FDA took unprecedented action to limit teens' access to e-cigarettes. The FDA argues that teen vaping has become an "epidemic," while some users argue that e-cigarettes are revolutionary for weening adults off of traditional cigarettes. The FDA must find a public health solution to encourage smokers to quit smoking, but it can't allow a new generation to become dependent on nicotine in the process. Is placing limitations on e-cigarettes the solution? What do you think? 

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The FDA is not just concerned about teen usage of e-cigarettes, according to the FDA commissioner himself, Scott Gottlieb, the organization worries that vaping could spawn a brand new generation of nicotine-dependents.

Vaping has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, particularly among high schoolers. A 2016 report from the U.S. Surgeon General cited a 900% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school students from 2011 to 2015. And like most trends, vaping has spread to middle school students as well. According to the report:

E-cigarettes are marketed by promoting flavors and using a wide variety of media channels and approaches that have been used in the past for marketing conventional tobacco products to youth and young adults.

Unless major e-cigarette manufacturers find a solution to the public health issue in 60 days (from the time of the warning on Sept. 12), the FDA says it could require them to stop selling flavored tobacco pods altogether. 

But teens aren't the only ones who use e-cigarettes. Traditional smokers are turning to vaping as a "less-dangerous" alternative to traditional cigarettes. There's no arguing that e-cigs are still bad for one's health, but traditional cigarettes are certainly worse. Plus, according to a study conducted by Penn State, e-cigarettes are less addictive. 

Although there are conflicting reports about whether or not e-cigarettes actually help reduce or replace smoking habits, the devices are a lesser of two evils. Harvard Health Publishing's John Ross explains: 

The major benefit of e-cigarettes, compared to regular cigarettes, is that they do not produce the tar or the toxic gases found in cigarette smoke. 

The FDA worries that teens' use of e-cigarettes will act as a gateway to traditional cigarettes. But what about the estimated 37.8 million adult smokers in the US? Limiting access to e-cigarettes–flavored or otherwise–will impact all users, including those who use them as a smoking alternative. 

Plus, some critics argue that the FDA's attention is misplaced, as opioids and other illicit substances pose a much greater threat to the country's youth. 

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