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    FDA allows sale of menthol e-cigarettes despite health risks to youth

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized the sale of four menthol-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), better known as e-cigarettes, manufactured by NJOY. This marks the first time the agency has approved non-tobacco flavored vaping products.

    While the FDA contends the decision was based on evidence submitted by NJOY showing the products could help adult smokers transition away from combustible cigarettes, public advocates have raised serious concerns. They argue menthol flavors, which are very popular among young people, could undermine efforts to curb the youth vaping epidemic.

    Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows around one in seven high school students currently use e-cigarettes, with menthol varieties being disproportionately favored. Health groups fear widespread availability and marketing of these products online and in stores could reverse declines in teen vaping rates seen in recent years. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network stated it was a “blow to public health” that did not adequately protect youth.

    The FDA acknowledged all nicotine products carry risks and are not safe. However, authorities believe for adult smokers, the potential benefits of switching to less harmful ENDS outweighed the risks to youth. Strict rules will govern how NJOY promotes the newly approved menthol vapes. Ongoing monitoring will also determine if authorization stays in place, with noncompliance potentially resulting in suspension.

    While e-cigarettes were initially viewed as a reduced harm option for smokers looking to quit tobacco, many public health professionals now argue any flavor other than tobacco increases the appeal to youth and risks reigniting addiction issues. The FDA decision to green light menthol vapes is therefore disputed as it could negatively impact decades of progress in tobacco control. Only time will tell the real impact on public health.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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