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Saskatchewan government introduces rules to ban vaping products for youth

Saskatchewan will be restricting the sale of vaping products such as e-cigarettes to people who are at least 18 years old.

Health Minister Jim Reiter has introduced amendments to the Tobacco Control Act to bring the products in line with existing tobacco legislation.

He says the changes will also prohibit the display of e-cigarettes in retail businesses where youth have access, restrict their use in and around public buildings such as schools and prohibit sales at amusement parks, arcades and theatres.

The amendments also restrict advertising of vaping products in the same manner as tobacco products.

The changes are to take effect in the spring.

The government says it believes the amendments will help lower the number of Saskatchewan youth using vaping products.

Anti-smoking groups say Saskatchewan’s decision means Alberta is the only province without legislation to control the consumption, sale and marketing of vaping products.

The Canadian Cancer Society is urging the Alberta government to move swiftly on new legislation to give Alberta children the chance to grow-up tobacco and nicotine-free.

“The rates of youth vaping have skyrocketed in the past few years and we are still waiting for effective legislation that will prevent tobacco and vaping companies from targeting youth,” Angeline Webb, a society spokeswoman, said in a release. “Protection delayed is protection denied.”

Health authorities across Canada have begun to closely monitor reports of respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping.

Health Canada has said vaping has risks and the long-term effects remain unknown.


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Health Canada ‘actively monitoring’ U.S. vaping illness breakthrough

Canadian health officials say they are closely monitoring an apparent U.S. breakthrough into the cause of a mysterious vaping illness.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they have a “very strong culprit” in a chemical compound known as vitamin E acetate.

The compound was found in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients across the United States, as well as liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many who fell ill.

Health Canada spokesman Eric Morrissette says vitamin E acetate is not allowed in Canadian cannabis vaping products.

Still, he says Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are “actively monitoring the vaping illness situation.”

That includes maintaining close contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better understand their investigation.

“Health Canada will continue to monitor all available data sources and surveillance systems and will take additional action, if warranted and as appropriate, to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Morrissette said Friday in an emailed statement.

There have been seven confirmed or probable cases of severe lung illness related to vaping in Canada.

That includes two confirmed cases in Quebec, two probable cases in New Brunswick and three probable cases in British Columbia.

U.S. officials said Friday this is the first time they’ve found a common suspect in the damaged lungs of patients.

But they cautioned they cannot rule out all other toxic substances, and it may take animal studies to clearly show vitamin E acetate causes the lung damage that’s been seen.

More than 2,000 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teens and young adults, and at least 40 people have died.

The first Canadian was diagnosed in Quebec in September and Health Canada has urged people who vape to watch for symptoms, such as a cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting and chest pain.


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Altria takes a $4.5 billion hit on Juul amid vaping backlash

UnknownMarlboro-maker Altria is taking a big financial hit from its multibillion-dollar bet on e-cigarettes.

The tobacco giant on Oct. 31st slashed the value of its investment in the beleaguered vaping company Juul Labs by a third, dragging down its results to a financial loss for the quarter.

Richmond, Virginia-based Altria bought roughly a third of Juul for $13 billion last December. But executives said they would take a $4.5 billion write-down on the investment amid a growing crackdown on Juul and the vaping industry at large.

Since last year, Juul has been hit by new federal and state investigations into its marketing amid an explosion of underage vaping among teenagers. Separately, an outbreak of lung injuries tied to vaping has led to new government warnings around e-cigarettes. No single product or ingredient has been identified as the root cause.

Altria executives said the cut to Juul’s value reflects recent vaping bans by state and local authorities and expected restrictions from the federal government. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon outline new restrictions on vaping flavours, a step intended to curb youth appeal.

Juul has made a number of voluntary concessions in an effort to weather the firestorm, including halting product advertising and pulling several of its flavoured products .

A lawsuit filed in California earlier this week by a former Juul executive levelled new allegations against the company, including that it disregarded quality procedures and knowingly shipped of tainted mint-flavoured pods to customers.

Juul called the lawsuit “baseless.” And the company’s former CEO, Kevin Burns, rejected the account.

“As CEO, I had the company make huge investments in product quality, and the facts will show this claim is absolutely false and pure fiction,” said Burns, through a spokesperson. Burns was replaced as CEO last month by K.C. Crosthwaite, an executive from Altria.

In a regulatory filing, Altria revealed that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the company’s role in the resignation of Burns and “the hiring by Juul of any current or former Altria director, executive or employee.”

Under the management shake-up last month, Crosthwaite announced that another Altria executive, Joe Murillo, would become Juul’s chief regulatory officer. Murillo previously worked as Altria’s head of regulatory affairs.

Altria Group Inc. said it posted a quarterly loss of $2.6 billion, or $1.39 per share, for the period ended Sept. 30. Those results included the $4.5 billion pretax write-down of Juul. Adjusted earnings of $1.19 per share beat the average Street estimate of $1.14 per share, based on an analyst survey by Zacks.

Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes and Copenhagen chew, has been working to shift its business away from traditional tobacco amid steady declines in smoking.

The company recently began selling a heat-not-burn cigarette alternative, iQOS , made by Philip Morris International. Altria is marketing the first-of-a-kind device in the U.S. under a licensing deal with the international tobacco maker. Both companies say the device could appeal to smokers who have been unwilling to switch to vaping products, which use a nicotine solution, not tobacco.

Altria, which owns Philip Morris USA, said total revenue was virtually flat at $6.86 billion. Its adjusted revenue, which excludes excise taxes, totalled $5.41 billion and beat estimates.

The company still expects to earn $4.19 to $4.27 per share for the full year, representing growth of 5% to 7% over last year. It lowered its long-term growth target of 7% to 9% to a new range of 5% to 8% growth for 2020 through 2022.


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Ontario to ban promotion of vaping products in gas stations, convenience stores

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 9.16.36 AMOntario announced Friday it will ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations, a move critics said does not go far enough to protect the health of young people.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said she made the decision in response to new research that showed vaping is on the rise among youth in the province.

“That’s a big concern to me,” she said. “I know that is a big concern to parents and families and I’m concerned about the potential health effects the increase in vaping has brought forward so we are starting with this prohibition of advertising.”

Elliott said the ban takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Ontario was set to ban the advertising of vaping products in convenience stores under the previous Liberal government but the Progressive Conservatives paused regulations that were to come into effect on July 1, 2018 shortly after they took office.

The province’s change of direction Friday comes as health authorities in Canada have begun to closely monitor reports of respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping. In the U.S., health authorities have reported 1,604 cases of vaping-related illnesses, including 34 deaths.

No single ingredient, electronic cigarette or vaping device has been linked to all the illnesses in the U.S., but most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana.

Last month, Elliott issued a ministerial order to public hospitals to report vaping-related cases of severe pulmonary disease.

“My responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of our young people and that’s why we’re moving forward now with this ban,” she said.

The province will still allow vaping to be promoted in specialty stores and cannabis shops, which are open to people aged 19 and older.

The government will make the change by amending a provincial regulation to bring it in line with the current ban on in-store tobacco promotion.

Ontario now joins seven other Canadian provinces that have introduced similar restrictions on vaping promotion.

A year ago, the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco – which includes the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart & Stroke Foundation – asked the Ford government to ban display and advertising of vaping products in thousands of convenience stores across Ontario.

The groups said at the time that it would lead to increased nicotine addiction among teenagers, and on Friday its director applauded the move by the government.

“It’s pretty clear the government has looked at the evidence that has been published on youth vaping on how it’s growing in Ontario since they legalized promotion in retail settings,” Michael Perley said. “The evidence says they need to do more to stop messaging to young people … that these products are normal and just like candy and pop that kids go into convenience stores to look for.”

Perley praised the provincial ban as going further than current federal limits on advertising to youth, which he describe as too subjective. But he said the Tories should limit the sale of the vaping products to the hundreds of specialty shops which already exist across the province and have the expertise to help adult smokers.

“Smokers will get much better advice there than in a convenience store with line-ups and clerks who have never been trained on this issue,” he said.

NDP health critic Frances Gelinas said the Tories should never have paused the previous government’s bill to prohibit the practice.

“We’ve taken one tiny step,” she said. “But there are so many more steps that need to be taken to make sure that we don’t have this entire generation addicted to nicotine.”

Gelinas said the province should push forward with further reforms, including limiting flavours aimed at attracting children to vaping and limiting sales to specialty stores.

Health Canada has said vaping has risks and the long-term effects remain unknown.

The president of the Vaping Industry Trade Association said the voice of that sector has not been heard by the Ford government and called the ban “disappointing”.

Daniel David said the ban will prevent smokers from becoming aware of an option that is less harmful than tobacco.

“We strongly support measures that will restrict youth access, however this must be balanced to ensure that adult smokers still have access to these products,” he said in a statement.


Vaping fallout: Small stores in the U.S. suffer as vapers turn away

The thousands of shops that sprang up in cities and towns across the United States over the past decade to sell vaping products have seen a stunning reversal of fortune, with their sales plunging in just two months amid news reports that vaping has sickened nearly 1,300 people and killed 26.

People who turned to vaping products to help them quit smoking have been turning away, even teenagers who used the products illegally, although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says most of the people who suffered lung injuries from vaping were using products containing THC, a component of marijuana.

One estimate says 200 vaping stores have closed, while some owners report the loss of nearly three-quarters of their revenue. Some vape shops have been forced to lay off staff. Many owners, former smokers themselves, fear customers will go back to smoking cigarettes.

Spike Babaian says business is down as much as 70% at her three New York vaping shops since reports about people being sickened by vaping products began appearing in August.

Babaian just closed a fourth store rather than take a chance on renewing her lease. She worries about not being able to recoup the lost revenue.

“We can never undo the government going on the news and saying it’s not safe to vape. The damage has been done,” says Babaian, who has been in business for eight years.

Federal health officials have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of the illnesses and deaths. While they search, they are advising Americans to refrain from using any vaping products.

Steve Nair has had to lay off five of the 40 employees at his eight vaping stores in four states; his sales are down by half.

“I had to meet with them a few weeks ago and say, ‘things aren’t looking good,”’ Nair says.

The stories are similar at the estimated 15,000 to 19,000 small businesses across the country that sell vaporizers and vaping fluids used as a substitute for smoking.

Sales dropped precipitously as customers were frightened away by the first government reports of people sickened or dying after vaping. The CDC has since said most of the nearly 1,300 illnesses reported were due to liquids containing THC, which gives users the high they’re seeking from marijuana. Those products are sold illegally on the black market, not in neighbourhood stores.

Many people are still shying away from mainstream vaping products and the impact on the industry is pronounced. Greg Conley, a spokesman for the American Vaping Association, an industry group, says 200 stores closed since Aug. 1, a number he calls “a conservative estimate.”

Calls by government officials including President Donald Trump and the governors of states including Massachusetts, Michigan and New York for bans on sales of vaping products are increasing owners’ anxiety. A four-month ban on sales is in effect in Massachusetts. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to ban sales of flavoured vaping liquids. Those products are targeted because of their appeal to youthful vapers, but they account for the majority of sales to all users, including adults.

“That would probably put us out of business pretty quickly. We sell only these products; there’s nothing else to fall back on,” says Nair, whose stores include one in Buffalo, New York.

The CDC reported in 2017 that nearly 7 million adults, or 2.8 per cent of the country’s adult population, used vaping products. Last year, it counted 3.6 million middle and high school students who were using vaping products. Under Food and Drug Administration regulations, retailers cannot sell vaping products to people under 18, and more than a third of the states have higher minimum ages. Store owners are required to verify a customer’s age when they enter a store.

James Jarvis began seeing sales at his five Vapor Station stores in Central Ohio slow in early August and the drop accelerated into September.

“All you were hearing were headlines saying it was making people sick and killing them. It doesn’t do much for consumer confidence,” he says.

While the industry might not elicit much sympathy because of criticism that it sells nicotine products to minors, industry groups warn of the potential consequences of any ban for the many smokers who used vaping products to quit cigarettes.

Indeed, some owners are hearing from some former customers that they’ve gone back to cigarettes. Owners fear they’ve lost that business forever, but they also worry about the health of people who they’ve gotten to know well.

“They’re just gone. We lost about half our customers,” says Todd Donk, who has one Zook’s Vapor store in Bartlett, Tennessee. He averaged about $30,000 in sales each month before customers fled.

“One guy told me yesterday, ‘my family told me to go back to smoking. They’d rather see me smoke than vape,”’ Donk says.

That is frustrating and disheartening for vaping store owners; many started their businesses after successfully using the products to wean themselves off cigarettes, says Dimitris Agrafiotis, executive director of the Tennessee Smoke Free Association, which represents more than 100 small businesses in the vaping industry.

“They opened up these businesses to help people stop smoking,” he says. Many owners do more than just sell products; they help customers find the right vaporizers and liquids to fit their needs.

Missy Pilkington Currie smoked two packs of cigarettes a day before trying vaping products and then starting her business in 2014. Now, “98% of my customers are people trying to stop smoking,” she says.

Currie counted under 600 customer visits to her Vape Scape store in Hobbs, New Mexico, in September, down from nearly 1,700 in September 2018. Her sales are down nearly 60% from last year.

As they fight to survive, owners of vaping stores are relying on loyalty and the hope that people will come to realize that the products they sell are safe.

Nair says customers who have been vaping safely for years are still coming in.

“Some have been with us for 10 years,” Nair says. “They’re still confident in the product and are still shopping with us.”

Owners are hoping that as more people hear the CDC’s determination that the majority of illnesses weren’t caused by products sold in vaping shops customers will return. In the meantime, owners will use websites and word of mouth to tell the public their products are safe, says Jarvis, who is head of the Ohio Vapor Trade Association.

Most owners, whose stores sell only vaping goods, aren’t going to try to sell other products or turn themselves into convenience store operators, Jarvis says.

“We don’t want to muddy the waters. We want to be dedicated specialists for people who want to get off smoking,” he says.


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Nova Scotia and Alberta reviewing vaping regulations

Government in Alberta and Nova Scotia are reviewing laws and regulations around vaping products.

In Nova Scotia, Premier Stephen McNeil says his government is looking at regulations that could ban flavoured vaping products in the province.

McNeil responded Wednesday after the Opposition Progressive Conservatives introduced legislation aimed at addressing the growing numbers of young people who vape.

The Tory bill calls for a ban on e-liquids, and prohibits the use and possession of tobacco products by people under the age of 19.

However, McNeil says the government is already considering a series of potential regulatory changes that would require licences to sell vaping products, similar to those required to sell tobacco.

He says vaping products are regulated by Health Canada, and he believes the federal agency must also “step up” to tighten rules around things like nicotine content.

The premier added that some provincial legislation may also be needed, but there likely won’t be a bill introduced during the current fall session of the legislature.

“We don’t actually need (legislation) to ban the flavours, but we may need to in terms of making other changes that may be required on how we deal with that product,” McNeil said.

He added the regulatory changes could appear before the session wraps up.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston said something has to be done about a product that was originally marketed as a smoking cessation device.

Houston said while vaping products have probably helped some smokers quit the habit, it’s becoming more clear there are potentially harmful health effects.

“My party’s objective is to make sure the discussion is being had,” he said. “If the premier is willing to engage in that discussion, then that’s a good thing.”

In an August interview, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said that online sales were another challenge for the province. He also expressed concerns about teens being able to purchase products from vape stores.

While Nova Scotia was one of the first provinces to introduce regulations banning the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 19 and banning in-store advertising, Strang said there could be further tightening.

Meanwhile, the Alberta government will consider adding rules for vaping when it reviews the province’s smoking and tobacco legislation next month.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said he’s particularly concerned about the growing number of youth who vape, but there’s evidence it can be helpful for adults who are trying to quit smoking conventional cigarettes.

“I respect the rights of adults to choose for themselves, including choices that are unhealthy, but I don’t want my kids or anyone else’s kids to be pressured to start smoking or to start vaping,” he told reporters Wednesday.

He added a quarter of Alberta teens report having vaped in the last month.

Some acute lung illnesses have been reported as a result of vaping in Canada, but to date no cases in Alberta have come up.

The Centres for Disease Control in the United States has said 80% of the 800 recently reported severe lung illnesses from vaping involved people inhaling the cannabis compound THC with their device.

The review of Alberta’s Tobacco Act – which was already set to take place this fall regardless of recent vaping headlines – will be led by legislature member Jeremy Nixon. It is to seek feedback from school districts, municipalities, retailers and health advocates.

Nixon said the review could look at a minimum age for vaping, limiting its use in public places and workplaces, and strengthening restrictions for advertising, especially to youth.

The work is to begin Nov. 1 and be completed by year’s end, with a goal of having any changes brought before the legislature next spring. But Shandro said the government could act sooner if Alberta’s chief medical officer of health recommends any urgent action.

The legislation was last reviewed in 2012.

“This is a new, emerging technology that fell outside the scope of what the legislation said at the time,” Shandro said.

Darryl Tempest, executive director at the Canadian Vaping Association, said the Alberta government is taking a measured approach.

“We at the CVA share the deep concerns of Canadians about the recent cases of lung illnesses, particularly among youth,” he said.

“It’s critical that health authorities get to the primary source of this outbreak, as non-nicotine e-liquid vaping devices sourced on the black market have been implicated in many cases. It is for this reason that we encourage other provincial lawmakers and authorities to follow the example of Alberta.”

David Hammond, a professor of public health at the University of Waterloo, said governments need to act on vaping before there are calls for an all-out ban, which he said would be unproductive and unrealistic.

The key is to target vaping products at adults looking to get off more harmful traditional cigarettes, while cracking down on anything that would entice youth to pick up the habit, he said.

That could include banning advertising anywhere accessible to kids and limiting the zany flavours available for vaping devices popular with youth.

“I actually think it’s a barrier to some adult smokers and to some health professionals considering these products for quitting because they look like kiddie products – peanut butter and jam, chocolate chip cookie dough, cereal milk.”

At the same time, adults need to be better informed, Hammond added.

“In fact, smokers are confused,” he said. “A lot of them think that it’s just as bad or worse than smoking. And so we’ve actually failed both ends of this issue.”

 


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Q&A: What do we know about the U.S. vaping outbreak?

U.S. health officials continue to look for patterns in the hundreds of serious lung injuries reported in people who use electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices.

A look at what we know so far about the outbreak and the investigation:

WHO IS GETTING SICK?

As of October 4, the tally is 1,080 confirmed and probable cases in 48 states and one U.S. territory, including more than a dozen deaths. Health officials say 70% of the patients have been male. More than a third are younger than 21, with patients ranging in age from young teens to 75 years old.

WHAT VAPING PRODUCTS ARE INVOLVED?

No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified. Most of the patients say they vaped products containing THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana. Others say they vaped both THC and nicotine. A smaller group report they vaped only products containing nicotine.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Patients are coming into hospitals with cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and vomiting. Imaging tests show lung injuries and doctors can’t find infections or other causes.

HOW SERIOUS ARE THESE ILLNESSES?

Many of the reports involve severe, life-threatening illnesses in previously healthy people. Many patients received oxygen. Some needed to be put on breathing machines. Antibiotics didn’t work, and it’s not clear yet whether steroid drugs helped.

“We don’t know how well people will recover from (the lung injuries) and the damage may be permanent,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

WHAT ARE OFFICIALS DOING?

Even before the outbreak, schools were struggling to crack down on vaping because the devices are easy for students to hide. More than one in four high school students reported vaping in the past month in the most recent government survey. Health officials have warned for years that the popularity of flavoured vape products among kids could result in lifelong tobacco use.

With concern about teen vaping already high, the health crisis spurred some states to stop the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes or raise the minimum age for buying e-cigarettes to 21. Massachusetts suspended sales of all vape products for four months, a move that’s been challenged in court. The White House announced plans to ban flavoured vape products.

On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Juul and five other vaping companies to hand over information about how they market e-cigarettes.

Meanwhile, criminal investigators from the Food and Drug Administration are focusing on the supply chain to find out what’s making people sick.

WHAT’S THE LATEST RESEARCH?

It’s not final proof, but experts who examined lung tissue from 17 patients say the damage looks like chemical burns, similar to what would be seen in people exposed to poisonous gases. Dr. Brandon Larsen of Mayo Clinic Arizona says he believes toxic fumes are causing at least some of the illnesses. The study was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Incomplete lab testing by FDA continues to find THC and vitamin E acetate, a thickener, in some of the liquids tested, but Schuchat cautioned: “There may be a lot of different nasty things in e-cigarettes and vaping products and they may cause different harms in the lung.”

HOW DO AMERICANS VIEW THE HEALTH DANGERS OF VAPING AND SMOKING?

Americans believe nicotine is a bigger public health threat than THC, according to a survey by researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago. Nearly all adults (90%) believe smoking cigarettes is harmful, and 81% believe vaping nicotine products is harmful.

Fewer see health dangers in marijuana with 65% saying vaping THC is harmful and 58% of adults saying smoking marijuana that contains THC is harmful. The nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 adults was conducted Sept. 19-24.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT E-CIGARETTE SAFETY?

Health experts generally consider e-cigarettes to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes because they don’t contain all the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco. And some countries – including the United Kingdom – have fully embraced vaping as a public health tool to reduce the deadly toll of traditional tobacco.

U.S. health regulators have generally taken a more cautious approach. In part, that’s because there is virtually no long-term research on the health effects of the vapour produced when e-cigarettes heat a nicotine solution.

The FDA, which regulates nicotine-vaping products, has set a deadline of next May for all e-cigarette manufacturers to submit their products for review. Under FDA rules, only products that represent a net benefit to public health will be allowed to remain on the market.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE RIGHT NOW?

Health officials are urging people to stop vaping, particularly products that contain THC, and to get medical care if they have trouble breathing or chest pain after vaping.

Schuchat acknowledged a concern about black market products. She said states that license marijuana dispensaries are taking steps to make sure the products they regulate are safe, but she added: “With all the data I’ve been seeing, I don’t know what’s safe right now.”

 


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U.S. consumer watchdog agency probes 6 more vaping firms

Federal consumer watchdogs have ordered Juul and five other vaping companies to hand over information about how they market e-cigarettes, the government’s latest move targeting the industry.

The announcement Thursday from the Federal Trade Commission comes amid a nationwide crackdown on e-cigarettes as politicians and health authorities try to reverse an explosion of underage vaping by U.S. teenagers.

The FTC said in a statement it wants to “better understand” vaping sales and promotional practices, including e-cigarette give-aways, online influencer programs and marketing on college campuses. Those techniques are also at the centre of several state and federal investigations into whether Juul’s early viral marketing efforts helped spark the surge in teen vaping.

Last week San Francisco-based Juul announced it would cease all advertising of its small, discrete vaping devices. A company spokesman said Thursday in a statement: “We will fully co-operate and are focused on earning the trust of regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders.”

Federal law prohibits traditional tobacco companies from numerous sales tactics, including giving away cigarettes, sponsoring sports events and advertising on television, radio, public transportation and billboards. But those laws don’t apply to e-cigarettes, which first launched in the U.S. in 2007.

More than one in four high school students report vaping in the past month, according to the latest government survey data. Top health officials have called the trend an epidemic that risks addicting a generation of young people to nicotine.

Besides Juul, the government is also seeking information from R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, Fontem US, Logic Technology Development, Nu Mark and NJOY. Regulators want to review company materials beginning in 2015.

Besieged by criticism, Juul announced a series of surprise concessions last week: halting all advertising, pledging not to lobby against a planned federal ban on vaping flavours and replacing its CEO. Juul already faces multiple investigations from Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and several states attorneys general.

The privately-held company controls nearly 70 per cent of the U.S. retail market for e-cigarettes and became a cultural phenomenon on the success of its high-nicotine, flavoured pods.

Most experts agree that e-cigarette vapour is less harmful than cigarette smoke because it doesn’t contain most of the cancer-causing chemicals in burning tobacco.

The recent outbreak of lung illnesses mostly involves people who say they vaped THC, the high-inducing chemical found in marijuana. Still, health inspectors have not ruled out any products and are encouraging Americans to avoid vaping until they determine the cause of the illnesses.


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Keep calm and vape on: UK embraces e-cigarettes

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 11.07.46 AMCanada is watching closely as the U.S. scrambles to crack down on vaping, however Britain is embracing electronic cigarettes as a powerful tool to help smokers kick the habit.

The Royal College of Physicians explicitly tells doctors to promote e-cigarettes “as widely as possible” to people trying to quit. Public Health England’s advice is that vaping carries a small fraction of the risk of smoking.

U.S. public health officials have taken a more wary approach, and have been slow to regulate e-cigarettes. That caution turned to alarm, though, with an explosion in teen vaping, prompting the federal government and some states to take steps to ban fruit and minty flavours that appeal to youths.

And now, with hundreds of U.S. cases of a mysterious lung illness among vapers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people consider not using e-cigarettes, especially those with THC, the compound that gives pot its high.

The U.S. reaction is “complete madness,” said Dr. John Britton, director of the U.K. Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham. “The reality with smoking is, if you tell people to stop vaping, they will go back to tobacco and tobacco kills.”

Regulations about e-cigarettes vary by country, making for a patchwork of policies. More than 30 countries ban e-cigarettes outright; India halted sales this month. Many European countries including Austria, Belgium, Germany and Italy classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, subjecting them to strict controls. They are mostly sold as consumer products in Britain and France, under more lax rules.

Since arriving in the U.S. in 2007, e-cigarettes have been largely unregulated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration didn’t get the power to do that until three years ago and is still working out the details. Black market versions, meanwhile, have flourished.

Appearing before Congress last week, the U.S. FDA’s acting commissioner was pressed to explain the agency’s position. Several lawmakers suggested e-cigarettes should be completely removed from the market.

“We do not consider these products safe, we think they have harm,” said Dr. Ned Sharpless. “We do not think really anyone should be using them other than people using them in place of combustible tobacco.”

In Britain, a review by Public Health England, an agency similar to the CDC, concluded that vaping is about 95% less dangerous than smoking. A leading British anti-tobacco charity, Ash, even called for e-cigarettes to be licensed as medicines and provided free to smokers trying to quit by Britain’s government-funded health system.

“We need radical solutions to stop smoking and one option is providing smokers with e-cigarettes so they can get the nicotine they need without the tobacco smoke,” said Britton. “We have a much more relaxed attitude to people being addicted to nicotine on the basis that nicotine itself isn’t particularly hazardous.”

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices typically heat a solution containing nicotine into a vapour that’s inhaled. The amount of nicotine varies widely: Some countries set limits on the amount. There’s no cap in the U.S. And the surge in U.S. teen vaping brought warnings from health officials that nicotine can harm a teenager’s still developing brain.

“What’s right for England might not be right for the U.S.,” said Ryan Kennedy of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Compared to the United States, England has had historically higher rates of tobacco use and a “deeper comfort” with the idea of substituting a less harmful habit for a dangerous one, Kennedy said. British health officials have been able and willing to strictly regulate e-cigarettes while promoting them as a stop-smoking tool.

“It’s not very surprising that a place like England has embraced e-cigarettes,” Kennedy said. “A lot of things lined up to make sense to use these devices to help people transition away from cigarettes.”

In the U.S., meanwhile, the rapid rise in e-cigarettes’ popularity among teenagers, a thriving black market for vapes containing marijuana extracts and the illness outbreak have muddied the public health message recently, Kennedy said.

“Obviously there are a lot of moving parts with this,” he said.

Another key difference is advertising. Unlike in the U.S., Britain has tight regulations on advertising vaping; all TV, online and radio marketing is banned, explained Linda Bauld, a public health professor at the University of Edinburgh.

“E-cigarettes are promoted to middle-aged smokers as a way to quit and the imaging from our annual quit campaign is usually all men with beards, so it looks pretty boring,” she said.

The CDC said it appears THC vaping products are playing a role in the puzzling U.S. outbreak of lung injuries and deaths. The agency said many of the 800 people who got sick reported vaping THC. It said more information was needed on whether a single product, substance or brand is responsible. Some researchers suspect an ingredient used as a thickener in vaping oils, particularly in black market products.

“It’s inconceivable that any legitimate vaping product would cause that degree of damage,” Britton said.

Some British e-cigarette users said, in the meantime, their own habits wouldn’t change.

“There seems to be a bit of a panic over there, but that has nothing to do with us,” said Lewis Niall, a personal trainer outside a north London vaping store.

Niall said vaping as a whole shouldn’t be tarnished if the problem is illicit marijuana products.

“For me, I feel so much better since switching from cigarettes that I don’t think anything will change my mind,” he said.


Walmart to quit selling e cigarettes amid vaping backlash

Walmart is getting out of the vaping business.

The nation’s largest retailer said that it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its namesake stores and Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. when it sells out its current inventory.

The retailer said the move is due to “growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity” regarding vaping products. It also comes after several hundred people have mysteriously fallen ill after vaping, and some have died.

Walmart’s decision is the latest blow to the vaping industry, which has tried to position its products as healthier alternatives to smoking cigarettes, which are responsible for 480,000 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the industry has come under increased scrutiny after the deaths and illnesses – along with a surge in underage vaping.

President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavoured e-cigarettes and vaping products. Michigan banned the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes this week. In June, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes.

The bulk of e-cigarettes are sold through vape shops, which number about 115,000 nationwide, with additional outlets including drug stores, grocery stores and tobacco outlets, industry experts say.

E-cigarettes represent a very small part of Walmart’s nicotine business, which also includes traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and nicotine gum, so the impact on the retailer will be small.

But, it will be difficult for vaping companies to replace that access to shoppers given Walmart’s size, said Greg Portell, global lead partner in the consumer and retail practice of A.T. Kearney, a strategy and management consulting firm. Walmart operates more than 5,000 stores under its namesake and Sam’s Club in the U.S.

“Walmart’s size and scale makes their decisions about what products to carry meaningful for the impacted products,” Portell said. “Vaping companies will be especially challenged given the lack of direct consumer access.”

The Vapor Technology Association, a trade group, was quick to slam Walmart’s move against vaping products while keeping cigarettes on its shelves.

“The fact that Walmart is reducing access for adult smokers to regulated vapour products while continuing to sell combustible cigarettes is irresponsible,” Tony Abboud, executive director of the association, said in a statement. “This will drive former adult smokers to purchase more cigarettes.”

More than 500 people have been diagnosed with breathing illnesses after using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, according to U.S. health officials. An eighth death was reported this week. But health officials still have not identified the cause.

In July, Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including all e-cigarettes, to 21. It also said then that it was in the process of discontinuing the sale of fruit- and dessert-flavoured electronic nicotine delivery systems.

The moves come as Walmart is trying to become a better corporate citizen. It has adopted measures to become more environmentally friendly. It thrust itself in the country’s gun control debate after a mass shooting at one of its stores killed 22 customers in August. Earlier this month it decided to discontinue sales of certain gun ammunition and requested customers no longer openly carry firearms in its stores, even where state laws allow it.

“Increasingly, consumer companies are blurring the line between business and social decisions,” Portell added. “As the risks associated with new categories like vaping become more well known, we would expect retailers to make decisions on what role they want to play in those risks.”

Target says it doesn’t sell electronic cigarettes. CVS Health got out of the cigarette business five years ago, and says it doesn’t sell any vaping devices.