For many Americans, the curse of nicotine is a daily struggle.
Nicotine, which is commonly found in cigarettes and chewing tobacco, has been a cash crop for the United States for centuries. The fertile farmlands of the mid-Atlantic has yielded untold tons of the drug, and, backed by a massive lobbying industry, cigarettes were once as common as cough syrup in many homes.
Thanks to advances in medical science, however, we have come to realize that our smoke breaks and post-coital puffs are slowly killing us. Chances of contracting cancer, heart disease, and other terminal illnesses are woefully heightened by our use of the addictive substance, and breaking the habit is often difficult or impossible for some.
In this fight against addiction, vapor-based nicotine products have found a foothold. Many Americans have adjusted their smoking habits in order to take advantage of the technology, and use these e-cigarettes to wean themselves off of the deadly allure of the real McCoy.
But there is another threat rising in the world of vaporized nicotine, and it comes to us from the artificial flavorings of these products.
The FDA is now warning the makers of these nicotine-based concoctions to tread lightly on social media.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission on Friday issued warning letters to four flavored e-liquid product makers, stepping up pressure on firms using social media influencers to promote their products.
Social media marketing has come under increased scrutiny as part of attempts by health regulators to control the marketing of tobacco products, particularly the newest generation of products including the wildly popular Juul e-cigarettes.
There are concerns that young people, who spend an inordinate amount of time on social media, could be enticed to begin using nicotine as a result of online advertising.
More than 3.6 million middle and high school students across the United States were e-cigarette users in 2018, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey jointly conducted by the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The data also showed that youth who used e-cigarettes were also using them more frequently, and they were using flavored e-cigarette products more often in 2018, than in 2017, the agency said.
While e-cigarettes may be a viable alternative for adults looking to kick the habit, this influx of youth users belies a very real concern that their safety and stealthiness could lead to an epidemic resurgence of nicotine use in children.