e-cigarette devices in a labratory

Up in smoke? Vaping on the edge of banishment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has paused a ban on the sale of Juul Labs’ e-cigarettes, saying it requires an additional review of the company’s marketing application.

This pause follows a federal appeals court’s decision a few weeks ago to stay — i.e. temporarily freeze — the FDA’s ban, following an appeal from Juul requesting an emergency review of the FDA’s order.

But the once-thriving company isn’t out of the woods just yet: The FDA has only paused the ban for reevaluation. It has not rescinded it.

Juul has always been in the spotlight, in part because of its prominent placement atop the e-cigarette chain, but with the company facing a potential demise, it could be the first casualty, with the rest of the vaping industry in the government’s sights.

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Dr. Zubair Karim is an assistant professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at Augusta University, and has completed considerable research on the effects of e-cigarettes and similar devices.

Dr. Zubair Karim, assistant professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at Augusta University, was a researcher on a study that looked at Juul e-cigarettes and how they elevate the risk of thrombosis and other complications in patients.

“Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot, either partial or complete blockage, within blood vessels, whether venous or arterial, limiting the natural flow of blood,” Karim said.

“There are several complications depending on where the thrombosis is located. The most serious problems include stroke, heart attack and serious breathing problems, which is called pulmonary embolism. If the patients are not treated in a timely manner, it will lead to life-threatening conditions. However, progression of the disease can be prevented by following changes in our lifestyle such as increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, losing weight, eating a balanced diet, quitting junk food and managing other health conditions.”

With the ban on Juul products, could this result in a ban on other companies’ e-cigarette products as well, or was there something specifically about Juul that caused their ban?

“This is the first steps toward the banning of the e-cigarette, i.e., Juul, where the FDA took a significant and bold step,” Karim said.

“Gradually, this will open the path for banning of the other e-cigarette products. There are no differences in the Juul and other products, but Juul became more popular in our young generation. Many local and state jurisdictions have recently begun enacting laws that prohibit e-cigarette usage, although some state laws with comprehensive smoke-free laws will still allow for vaping to be permitted in bars and restaurants while prohibiting e-cigarettes in other indoor places.”

For years, e-cigarettes and vaping devices were seen as a “safer” alternative to traditional cigarettes, but with flavors and packaging that has attracted children to the fad, efforts have been renewed to look into the possible side effects.

“Both smoking and vaping have similar side effects and cause serious health risks in the long run. Scientists do not fully understand the long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes, yet science indicates that they are not a safe alternative to smoking,” said Karim.

“In the last several years it has been observed that vaping is growing in popularity among teenagers. Moreover, e-cigarettes contain a large dose of nicotine, a substance known to slow the development of brains in fetuses, children and teens. Furthermore, vaping involves breathing in aerosol that contains several chemicals, including nicotine and flavoring through an e-cigarette or other devices. Also, the liquid present in the e-cigarettes which creates the vapor is dangerous to adults and children if they swallow, inhale, or get it on the skin.

Nonetheless, vaping also delivers dangerous chemicals, including diacetyl, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and such toxic chemicals that are not generated in traditional cigarettes. In summary, long-term vaping causes similar toxic impact to overall health compared to traditional cigarettes.”

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Written by
Milledge Austin

Milledge Austin is the manager of external communications for Communications and Marketing at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at miaustin@augusta.edu.

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man with glasses standing in front of blue background Written by Milledge Austin

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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