As Vaping Trend Soars, Tobacco Faces More Scrutiny

Vaping is a continued trend on the rise around the world. It has become one of the most popular smoking alternatives, has earned celebrity endorsements, and has even become hugely popular among teens thanks to companies like Juul (read our review here). Yet, vaping is far from the only smoking alternative to get that nicotine fix. Nicotine delivery systems outside of smoking rolled leaf tobacco have existed for centuries. Though less accessible, and sometimes only found in specialty tobacco retailers, the real problem facing tobacco-based smoking alternatives is new FDA regulation that does not affect the vape industry, at least for the time being.

Camel, owned by R. J. Reynolds (a subsidiary of British American Tobacco), submitted a Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) application with the FDA in December 2017 for their alternative product, Snus. Snus is a loose or pouch tobacco made to be placed under the tongue for direct absorption of nicotine, originally invented in Sweden. The FDA’s scientific advisory committee meeting for the Camel Snus classification is in September this year. However, given the committee’s recent recommendation to deny Philip Morris the MRTP status on a product, in addition to 17 snus product denials, British American Tobacco may have a lengthy and extensive process ahead. Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, all tobacco products are required to have several warning labels about the well-documented and long-researched health risks associated with tobacco product use. Applications for MRTP status would allow manufacturers to remove many of those labels, and could significantly change the face of advertising and promotion for smokeless tobacco products.

By contrast, vaping has previously enjoyed being relatively unregulated, having previously fallen just outside the purview of governance by a body like the Food and Drug Administration. E-liquid is not a consumable food. Nicotine-free liquid is not a classifiable drug. In 2016, however, the FDA finalized a rule granting the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) authority overall all areas of tobacco product manufacture and sale, including vaporizer paraphernalia. With the reach the FDA and CTP have gained to control tobacco related products to include electronic cigarettes (which contain no tobacco), it may not be much longer before labeling and marketing efforts for vapes require companies to submit for MRTP status.

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