I (Kathryn) had a brief exchange with one of our Twitter followers (@redfoxvapes) today about YouTube shutting down or hiding videos by vape reviewers & vape enthusiasts that prompted me to dig a little deeper & see what I could find. What I found stirred up some emotions & opinions that I would like to share, & I would like to know what y'all think.
I listened to the WBUR "On Point" segment published on April 5, 2018 which you can listen to here. Apparently there was an earlier version in which the hosts discussed a teen who created a YouTube video that actually turned out to be Abby Vapes, a not-teenage woman who posts vape reviews & videos, but that version was taken down. At any rate, my understanding is that the main issue that is being brought to the table is the use of the JUUL by underage kids. In the segment I heard the hosts consulting a doctor who expressed concern about the addictive nature of the JUUL & how it's an "epidemic" among students that may lead to more serious addictions. I have opinions.
First, what? Is the JUUL considered the new "gateway drug" as marijuana once was? Is this the Reefer Madness of 2018? If y'all will remember, Reefer Madness was a film meant to scare people away from marijuana by depicting the people who smoked it doing weird stuff that I've never seen anyone do unless they had just done cocaine (& even that's a stretch). I am quite honestly shocked that the JUUL is very specifically the target of fear right now. Aren't we facing an opioid crisis? Aren't children & adults alike dying from overdoses every hour in our country? Aren't doctors randomly prescribing opiates to quell pain that an Extra Strength Tylenol could fix? Not long ago I went the doctor with the flu. What was I prescribed despite being adamant that I DO NOT take opiates of any kind? Vicodin. VICODIN. What? I tore the prescription up right in front of that doctor & told him to give me some Tamiflu or something because he clearly was not listening to my words.
Perhaps I'm biased because I am an adult who does not have kids, but I am blind to my bias. I have worked with children since I was a 13 & I adore them. I was once a child myself. Having been a child, I know with certainty that anything an adult told me not to do I did anyway. Oh, you want me to not skip class? Not speed? Not text & drive? Not smoke cigarettes? Well, I did all those things & way more. Why? I dunno. I just did. And I could. I was not closely monitored, I went to a huge high school, I had a little beat up car, & I had time to kill. My point is that teenagers have not changed so far as I can tell & kids will always find a way to do stuff we (adults) tell them not to. To clarify, I DO NOT want children vaping & I am not an advocate of underage consumption of anything of any kind. I'm just saying that I believe there are bigger issues at hand facing our nation's children. I could be wrong though, & I'm willing to take any feedback.
Side Note: As a small part of the larger vaping community, I believe that every place should check & double-check IDs for anyone purchasing vape hardware & e-liquid. We do need to make sure that, as a community, we do not endorse underage consumption of our vape products. And I fully believe that we do a great job. Working for Savage I know that we take steps every day to ensure that we are not conversing with, selling to, or appealing to any person who is not of legal age. I believe that we do our part.
While I'm ranting, I feel that I need to touch on underage consumption of alcohol. Can I just talk about that really quick? I always found a way to obtain & consume alcoholic beverages when I was not of legal age, which I know seems like an obscure fact but just hear me out. We KNOW the damage that alcohol does to the brain, liver, kidneys, & overall health. But what's this I see as I casually drive down the 405? A billboard for Bud Light? A luxurious model holding a bottle of Skyy vodka? Nice. Again, what did that doctor prescribe me for body aches from the flu? Vicodin? Nice. What is the common prescription written for literally any kid (me) who shows any sign of defiance or energy? The equivalent of amphetamine? Nice. All of these substances are so easy to get, so easy to consume, & scientifically proven to produce harmful effects. Yet we still have access to them. We as a society still can harm, or even kill, ourselves with substances that the government deems acceptable.
The FDA is now coming down on the vape industry as a whole, putting us in the same category as tobacco & cigarettes & I simply do not agree with this conclusion. I don't. There's not enough evidence to say whether or not vaping is equally as harmful as anything else, & I think that there should be more research before the FDA comes storming in throwing around accusations & rules & talking about potential flavor bans & whatnot. Are these regulations the result of the loss of money of powerful people because Big Tobacco is losing money? I'm not sure, but if I'm free to breathe in the heinous air of Downtown LA (which kills my lungs every time I go) then I would like the freedom to vape. If I have the freedom to purchase & smoke cigarettes, then I would like the freedom to vape. If I have the freedom to obtain Vicodin for my flu, then I would like the freedom to vape. If I have the freedom to buy a drink at the bar, then I would like the freedom to vape. And I want the freedom to vape flavorful e-juices that taste good.
These are my opinions & I would love to hear what you think. Am I off-base? Is there a piece of the bigger picture that I'm not seeing? Am I so right that you literally can't even right now? Let me know! We want to hear from you!
P.S. There is a multiple choice survey by CASAA that is meant to collect data for the open comment period for the FDA's proposed flavor ban & you have the opportunity for YOUR voice to be heard! Click here to participate in the survey!