Tag Archives: E-cigarettes

No Shortage of Controversies for New FDA Commissioner

Thomas M. Burton, The Wall Street Journal: January 29, 2020


New Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen M. Hahn rises at 4 a.m. each day for an hour of intensive strength and stamina training. On stressful days, he fits a second workout in during the late afternoon.

Dr. Hahn, 60, takes over an FDA under fire for failing to adequately respond to the health threat from growing use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. This spring, he and the agency will face applications from e-cigarette companies and have to decide what e-cigarette products can qualify to stay on the market.

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Dr. Hahn also faces thorny decisions on stem-cell research and use of cannabidiol, or CBD, that will likely put him in the hot seat between rival advocacy groups.

The man taking on these challenges comes to the FDA with a sterling reputation in medicine and management, but with no previous government experience, unlike his predecessor Scott Gottlieb. That has some concerned about his ability to tackle the issues ahead.

“Always we have concerns when someone comes in who doesn’t know the FDA, which is a complex organization,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the public-interest research group National Center for Health Research in Washington.  “I never think it’s a good idea.”

What’s more, Dr. Hahn may not have long to make his mark if Mr. Trump fails to win re-election Nov. 3. “It’s a hard thing to come in with so little time [in the president’s term] and so little government experience,” said a former FDA commissioner, Robert Califf, who served under President Obama. “It’s so difficult to change policy with so little time.”

Dr. Hahn didn’t immediately comment for this article.

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Schools Seek Ways to Curb Vaping Among Students

Tawnell D. Hobbs, The Wall Street Journal: January 6, 2020


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An estimated 5.4 million middle- and high-school students in the U.S. recently used e-cigarettes, a vaping device, according to a federal survey released in December. That is 20% of all students, far more than the 4.3% that used cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,561 cases of hospitalizations for lung injury involving e-cigarettes, and 55 deaths, as of Dec. 27. The majority of cases are linked to products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

School administrators say vaping is more challenging to tackle on campus than regular cigarettes. Vape devices are typically battery-powered and made to look like everyday items, such as pens, lipstick cases and USB drives.

They come in child-friendly flavors, from bubble gum to strawberry cheesecake, and have pleasant smells. Students can take quick whiffs undetected while sitting in class or walking down a hallway, with exhaled vapor dissolving quickly into the air or held in to be absorbed, unlike lingering smoke from lit cigarettes.

School resource officers in Chico, Calif., use 18-years-olds, under the nicotine purchasing age of 21, as decoys to bust businesses selling tobacco products used for vaping; officials said eight clerks have been cited. The officers also allow students to trade vape devices for coupons for pizza and smoothies, with no questions asked. In four weeks, about 50 vapes were turned in, said Sgt. Greg Rogers.

“We’re just trying something different,” Sgt. Rogers said. “We wanted it to not be punitive.”

Jupiter Community High School in Palm Beach County, Fla., in October banned students from using the restroom during class periods unless for emergencies and with an administrative escort. The rule has since been lifted.

“Parents were frustrated with the fact that their children weren’t just allowed to go to the restroom,” said June Eassa, a Palm Beach school assistant superintendent.

Plainwell Community Schools in Michigan is starting random nicotine testing of high-school students in extracurricular activities in January. Students testing positive are restricted in participating in their activity.

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Juul Labs said that it has suspended broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S. “We are focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use,” the company said.

According to Juul’s website, “one 5% strength JUUL pod is designed to replace one pack of cigarettes in nicotine strength,” and saves money.

Researchers are concerned that there doesn’t seem to be a standard of what should be a normal vape dose, leaving students to grossly overuse the product.

“There’s a certain understanding that you don’t smoke more than a pack a day,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research. “With vaping, because it’s new and because all these products vary, there aren’t the sorts of standards that help people restrict what they’re doing.”

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