Weighing the Benefits of Flavored E-liquid

The FDA is tasked with balancing the benefit to public health of flavored vape liquid enticing adults to quit smoking against the likelihood that a young person who has never smoked will become hooked.

Many of the more than 500,000 commenters to the FDA about flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes have weighed in on their take. The evidence shows that flavors are important to a large percentage of teen and younger vapers; however, it’s also one of the critical factors articulated by long term smokers for kicking their habits.

This helps to explain why Juul, which has a $3 billion company valuation and sweeping appeal, has become so ingrained in social media and youth culture that "juuling" became a verb. Many people don’t even consider juuling to be vaping since it’s more concentrated, trendy and easier to use.

"It's a very convenient way to get a nicotine high anywhere you are," one juuling customer said.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and other groups urged the FDA in a letter Tuesday "to take quick and aggressive action to enforce the law before one or more of these products become the next juul phenomenon among our nation’s youth."

A class-action lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Juul users alleged that the vaping giant used a two-pronged approach to target adult smokers and teens

James Xu, owner of Avail, one of the largest vaping companies in the world, started the business when he saw how e-cigarettes helped his wife kick her smoking habit. Xu, who owns other businesses such as home goods retailer Plow and Hearth, said vaping doesn't "speak to me" like his other companies, "but I'm not ready to quit anytime soon because every day, I hear those moving stories touching people’s lives."

He's going to keep up the "fight for flavors" with the Global Vapor Standards Association run out of his Richmond, Virginia, headquarters where he makes about 100 flavors.

"The main reason people are able to switch away from tobacco is because of the flavors offered to them," Xu said. "If nobody uses it, why bother?"