What it means that the Surgeon General now calls vaping an ‘epidemic’

The US Surgeon General just declared youth vaping an epidemic, and called out e-cigarette giant Juul as part of the problem in an advisory today. The Surgeon General’s declaration isn’t a new policy or enforcement action against vape companies or retailers. But it is a call to action that follows news that teen vaping is skyrocketing.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams’ advisory lays out why teen vaping is a public health concern: nicotine can mess with the developing brain, it’s addictive, and the chemicals in e-cigarette vapor may be unhealthy to inhale. The advisory says a recent surge in teen vaping “has been fueled by new types of e-cigarettes that have recently entered the market,” and calls out vape giant Juul for its high nicotine doses.

The Surgeon General’s power is more about influence, and less about enforcement: the real regulatory power over vaping comes from the Food and Drug Administration. So this advisory doesn’t have any legal force, Micah Berman, a professor of health services management and policy at The Ohio State University, tells The Verge in an email. “They are a tool used by the Surgeon General to call attention to an issue and to provide guidance to the public,” Berman says. “They are only issued rarely, when immediate action is called for — which is what makes them so noteworthy.”

The advisory asks parents, teachers, and health care providers to talk to teens about vaping, and why it’s risky. It also urges state, local, and tribal governments to create clean air policies, curb the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, and prevent advertising campaigns aimed at young people. “Our nation’s doctor sees this as a problem,” says Brian King at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health, who worked on today’s advisory. “We ultimately hope [this] will galvanize folks at multiple levels, particularly at the state and local level.”

Read more at https://www.theverge.com

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