As of last Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now count 530 cases of illness, and nine deaths directly related to vaping. Dr. Ann Schuchat of the CDC told KTLA that she expects “hundreds more” by the time the organization announces a new count later this week. Now, states across the country are starting to sound the alarm and issue widespread e-cigarette bans as the CDC and FDA continue to investigate the cause of the mysterious outbreak of vape-related illnesses while attempting to curb the growing use of e-cigarettes amongst teenagers.
Amid the growing controversy, Huffington Post reports that Kevin Burns the CEO of popular e-cigarette brand JUUL Labs announced that he’d be stepping down from his position on Wednesday and that JUUL would be suspending all broadcast, print, and digital product advertisement. Burns will be replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, who previously served as the Chief Growth Officer for Altria, a major tobacco company that owns a 35% stake in JUUL.
On the future direction of the company, Crosthwaite said “I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like JUUL… Unfortunately, today that future is at risk to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry.” Which is, nice, we guess, but also reflects what is so frustrating about the proposed flavored e-cigarette ban to longtime users who rely on e-cigarettes — particularly flavored capsules — to kick their smoking habits. The CDC, FDA, and the Trump administration keep trying to solve two independent problems with one solution. While a single ingredient has yet to be linked to the 530 illnesses and nine deaths, we already know that flavoring is not one of them.
Banning flavored e-cigarettes will likely reduce use amongst young people, but it does absolutely nothing for reducing the instances of illness or death. Which is why states are taking the matter into their own hands.