Vaping Policy Loophole Leads to Teens Switching to Disposable E-Cigarettes


A policy loophole regarding the ban of e-cigarettes permits all flavors to continue to be sold in devices that cannot be refilled and are redesigned to be disposed of after the flavored nicotine has run out.

A policy loophole regarding the ban of e-cigarettes permits all flavors to continue to be sold in devices that cannot be refilled and are redesigned to be disposed of after the flavored nicotine has run out.1

Fruit, mint, and dessert flavored refillable cartridge-based cigarettes, such as JUUL, have been prohibited by the Trump administration. In addition, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed Bill 3265 into law, banning the sale of most flavored electronic cigarettes. This is the first permanent flavor ban in the United States.1,2

However, the holes in the government’s flavor ban have led competing brands, such as Puff Bars, Posh, and Stig, to prosper with their disposable cigarettes. Imported from China, some of these disposables have a higher nicotine level than JUUL.1

Many high school students have already made the switch to the disposable brands, as they are more cost effective compared with refillable brands, according to a report inThe New York Times. A disposable cigarette costs between $7 and $10, whereas a pack of JUUL pods can be up to $30.1

Government action has already taken place in certain states. For example, Sen Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a longtime tobacco-control advocate, has said that he and 29 other senators have written to the FDA demanding the agency’s rationale for permitting disposables to stay on the market.1

“Any administration that was serious about protecting children from nicotine addiction would realize that disposable e-cigarettes are the last thing we should be leaving on the market,” Sen Merkley said in an email toThe New York Times. “Cheap, accessible, fruit-flavored vaping devices are tailor-made to ensnare children and teens.”1

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the federal government’s 2019 Youth Tobacco Survey, showing that a quarter of the nation’s high school students reported vaping within the previous 30 days, up from 20.7% in the previous year and 11.7% in 2016. Even with the immense amount of data available about the dangers of vaping, the industry fought against the government’s proposals, leading to the FDA’s final policy allowing menthol e-cigarettes to stay on the market.1

Mark Smith, a spokesman for Fontem U.S., who manufactures blu, toldThe New York Timesthat the company has already developed a robust youth access prevention plan, including age-verification mechanisms, clear labels that say “not for sale to minors,” and other measures. They also sponsor the national “We Card” program, which trains retailers to avoid selling restricted products to minors.1

Data have shown that the most appealing e-cigarettes for youths are cartridge-based products that are easy to use and easily concealable, according to Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. The agency also added that it did not have data showing high rates among youth in the disposable market; however, this issue is now being monitored and the policy will be revised, if necessary.1

Zeller commented in a previous statement that under existing regulations, the FDA retains the ability to take action against manufacturers and sellers of disposable e-cigarettes who fail to keep them away from minors.1

While the public waits for the updated survey results about disposables from the next annual youth tobacco survey, Meredith Berkman, one of the co-founders of Parents Against Vaping, feels this will result in more youths becoming addicted to nicotine.1

“We have known for months that kids have been using these disposable products as it becomes as it became more difficult to access some Juul flavors,” Berkman said in a prepared statement, as reported byThe New York Times. “They make decisions on data and science, we understand that. But there must be some interim data collection, because it’s not fast enough. By the time we get the data on disposables, for all we know, there will be a new product that youth are using.”1


Study: e-Cigarette Use High Among Adolescents in the United States, 2019

Staying Informed and Educating Your Patients About the Vaping Epidemic


  1. Kaplan, Sheila. ‘It’s Rampant’: Disposable Flavor Pods Are the New Thing in Vaping.The New York Times. Published January 31, 2020. Accessed January 31, 2020.
  2. Nessel, Jennifer. New Jersey Law Bans Sale of Most Flavored Electronic Cigarettes.Contemporary Clinic. Published January 22, 2020. Accessed January 31, 2020.

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