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E-Cigarette Flavor Ban Goes into Effect

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A partial ban against flavored e-cigarettes went into effect on February 6th, 2020. Numerous vaping products will be taken off the market.

Fewer Products Available

The intended ban was announced back in September 2019 by federal officials. The original goal was to remove all flavored products except tobacco. The final policy was announced publicly on January 2nd. The result is less inclusive than what original intentions appeared to be with several exceptions being allowed, including menthol.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the final policy represents the results of research into which flavors were more enticing and used with teens and kids. Critics say the policy doesn’t do enough to stop vaping among teens or to curb the epidemic in existence.

The policy isn’t a law and it doesn’t act as a new ban. Rather it is enforcing what has already been in existence. The agency will look at enforcing the policy case-by-case to utilize its limited resources where it’s most needed. The top priority will be on vaping products in cartridges that have flavors other than menthol or tobacco. These cartridges are often known as pods, which fit within the vaping product.

Disposable vapes aren’t included in the policy or the liquids that go with them. According to the FDA, the policy is designed to focus on vaping products for kids without taking them away from adults who vape.

Alarming Vaping Rates

The reason behind the focus on the pods is because they are easy to use and hide, which makes it more appealing to teens who are vaping for the first time. They also have a high concentration of nicotine and are readily available. The agency will continue to go after manufacturers that target their marketing to teens and underage vapers or those who don’t have adequate policies in place to prevent access by minors.

Studies indicate that over five million students in high school and middle school are using vaping products. According to research from the FDA, over one-fourth of high school students are using as of 2019. This percentage is up from just over 10 percent in 2017. It is the hope of the FDA and other agencies that the numbers will go down with stronger enforcement of the policy. The agency also says it will begin inspections of manufacturers as well as retailers to ensure they are in compliance with the policy.

One of the concerns of critics is the unpredictability of what teen vapers will do with the policy in effect. They doubt that it will completely stop vaping among minors. Instead, they are more concerned with where underage vapers will go. They may choose to use menthol or tobacco products or move to disposable systems. They are doubtful that it will stop them from vaping, especially since some of them are using the alternative products now.

Black market products may also become a concern, which the FDA says they are keeping a watch for even now. They will also monitor how the policy affects adult vapers.

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Defective EpiPens Increase Risk of Death

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The US Food and Drug Administration announced that certain EpiPens may fail to work correctly for allergic reactions. This includes the Ep
iPen 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg and generic versions of the products.

EpiPen Malfunction

According to the FDA, the EpiPens may delay injection of the epinephrine being given for a severe allergic reaction. They may also activate too soon if the safety release is removed from the side. The correct way to remove the blue safety release is to pull it straight up with one hand while holding the pen with the other. If the person attempts to hold it and remove the release with the same hand, it may activate the medicine.

The blue safety release may already be partially raised on some of the EpiPens. This would allow the device to activate before it should, which means the person wouldn’t receive the medication for the reaction.

Another issue with the devices is that some may fail to slide out of the carrier. Other user errors could cause the EpiPens not to work correctly. The FDA recommended that patients review the instructions that come with the EpiPen periodically to ensure they know what to do in an emergency.

Pharmacists should inspect the EpiPens before they are distributed to the patient. If a patient has a device and they are having an issue with it, they can contact the manufacturer at 800-796-9526 for a replacement at no cost to them.

What EpiPens Do

EpiPens contain epinephrine, which is a medication designed to open the airways in the lungs and narrow blood vessels. It works by injection to take effect immediately.

The medication can stop wheezing, bring up severely low blood pressure and stop hives and itching as well as other symptoms of an allergic reaction. The reactions may be caused by an allergy to foods, drugs, insect bites or stings and even anaphylaxis caused by exercise. It can be given by the person suffering from the reaction and is generally kept on hand for anyone with a history of severe reactions to allergens.

The EpiPen Auto-Injector is designed for people who weigh at least 66 pounds. The EpiPen Jr Auto—Injector is prescribed for those who weight at least 33 pounds but no more than 66 pounds.

It’s important to contact a doctor after using the EpiPen even if the symptoms of the allergic reaction wear off. The EpiPen only lasts for about 30 minutes, and the person may start to have a reaction again.

Anyone who has an EpiPen should review the information and make sure they understand how it works. If they don’t, they can ask their pharmacist or doctor for information. They should also check the device to see if it is working correctly. If not, it should be replaced. It can be life-threatening to rely on the EpiPen when a person is having an episode and not have it work correctly or fail to dispense the medication at all.

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Health Concerns Over Vaping Limit Juul’s Expansion in Global Markets

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In 2019, a mysterious lung illness was linked to vaping, and several people died while thousands were diagnosed and treated. JUUL, one of the manufacturers of vaping devices, has seen more restrictions in the US because of the situation. To continue to be successful, JUUL has looked at expanding globally where fewer restrictions make it easier for vaping devices to gain new users.

Going Global

JUUL has looked at moving into several global markets in the past year. Following the strategy employed by cigarette companies, JUUL saw potential to win new consumers around the world with its vaping devices, especially after flavored devices were banned in the US.

While the company began its plan for expansion, many of these plans have been thwarted. JUUL was removed from the China market just four days after entry. Other markets that have proven fruitless include Thailand, India, Singapore, Philippines, Laos and Cambodia. JUUL has also delayed a launch in the Netherlands and stopped sales in Israel.

It appeared that South Korea would be a legitimate market for the manufacturer with a third of the men smoking and many consumers interested in the latest in Western technology and goods. JUUL started out with fast growth in the country and soon became a top brand for vaping products.

Two issues plagued JUUL in this lucrative market. First, a tax on e-liquid products made vaping devices expensive. Second, the amount of nicotine allowed in these devices is just one percent, which is less than the three and five percent that had been allowed in JUUL’s products in the US. A warning from the South Korea government about damage to the lungs from vaping products add to the problems for the vaping manufacturer.

Vaping Illness Casts Black Cloud on JUUL

Even though JUUL products aren’t linked to the lung illness, it has had an adverse effect on the company’s ability to enter global markets. Sales dropped dramatically in South Korea as the entire vaping industry was hard hit with a reduction of 90 percent in sales in the fourth quarter of 2019.

While JUUL products began to be sold in India in 2018, an official launch was planned for late 2019. India banned all e-cigarettes in the country before the launch could happen. In Indonesia, JUUL became quite popular with the younger crowd. While JUUL tried to make its products appeal as devices to help smokers stop smoking, the real use for the product came from those who both smoked and vaped as well as those who had never smoked.

While JUUL pulled out of Indonesia, many people are concerned that sales will just move online. Experts say that it’s already a flourishing market.

The illnesses in the US that were linked to vaping has led to concern around the world. Many countries that before were quite lenient with vaping have now taken action to limit or even ban the products. JUUL’s strategy to expand around the world has been delayed at least if not completed altered.

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Vaping Could Increase Health Risk with COVID-19

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations for those who are elderly and people who are high-risk for dealing with COVID-19. Another group who may be at risk for this disease is anyone who smokes or vapes.

Vaping Illnesses

Vaping has already been tied to a serious lung illness with many cases diagnosed and treated from the summer of 2019. Like the vaping illness, COVID-19 attacks the lungs, which could leave those who are smoking or vaping even more susceptible.

The illness tied to vaping results in permanent damage to the lungs. Many of patients have gone to the emergency room and even been put on ventilators to help with breathing because of the severity of the situation. Several have died from the disease. Those who vape may also suffer more serious effects of any illness, including flu. The issue becomes even more frightening with COVID-19.

When a person vapes, it impacts their lungs. The lungs have more difficulty clearing out foreign substances and working at normal capacity. Some experts are wondering if vaping has contributed to the number of younger people being hospitalized for the virus. A study done in China shows that people who smoke have a 14 times greater chance of developing a severe case of COVID-19 than someone who doesn’t. These same people have a 14 percent higher chance of getting pneumonia.

Along with people who smoke and vape, anyone abusing drugs could also be at an increased risk. Many of these drugs have a negative effect on the respiratory system. Opioids slow down the breathing rate, which makes it more difficult to get enough air and to send enough oxygen to the organs. Opioid misuse is already linked to an increased death rate in people who are diagnosed with respiratory issues. For many drug users, they double their risk because they also smoke or vape.

Fatalities with Vapers

With the vaping illness, many people went to the emergency room because they couldn’t breathe. The most serious cases would be put on a ventilator, and many died from the disease. The issues are similar with COVID-19. It can start with a cough and fever, but it can quickly lead to shortness of breath and pneumonia. Doctors are concerned with the need for ventilators for those who have underlying conditions or are at a higher risk. Thousands of people have already died from this virus, and vapers and smokers most likely will end up with a higher fatality rate if they are exposed.

While there were some similarities on cases involving the vaping-related lung disease, no single cause was found. Many experts and agencies recommended that people stop vaping or at least not buy vaping products from off the street because they might not know what ingredients were included. With the virus running rampant throughout the US, most experts would agree to stop vaping regardless of what products are being used.

The single best thing that anyone can do to avoid complications with the virus is to reduce their risk. That means stop smoking or vaping.

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