‘Big splash without much meaning’: Lubbock doctor skeptical of FDA ban on Juul products

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock doctor says the FDA’s ban on Juul devices probably won’t make an impact on vaping or tobacco use. Right now, the company is working to appeal that ban, securing a temporary stay from a federal appeals court on Friday.

Victor Test, the chief of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at the Texas Tech Health Science Center, calls the ban a big splash without much meaning. He says the FDA banned the products because of an issue with pre-marketing data, but the organization hasn’t specified what that issue is, or stated that there is an immediate health risk.

While Test acknowledges that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking, according to current data, he says that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. He says smoking cigarettes is a substantially bigger health problem than vaping, but there’s also been more time to study it’s effects.

“I’m a lung doctor, so I want people to breathe air. I don’t want them to breathe anything else,” Test said.

Test is also skeptical that the FDA’s ban only targets one company.

“The reality is there are 23 other brands of E-cigarettes still available. It’s not like they’re going away. And once you make something legal, you’re not making it illegal again,” Test said.

Test is afraid the ban on the popular brand could push people to devices that are less known, or even to smoking cigarettes. He says the same thing could happen with teens, and that’s his main concern. He says CDC data shows teens that start off vaping are more likely to transition to tobacco usage.

“And using nicotine, which is a addictive substance, which by itself has some health-associated problems with it, that’s my biggest issue,” Test said.

Green Gorilla is one of the shops in town that still sells Juul products. One of its employees says they haven’t pulled anything from shelves yet, and they’re not sure when that could happen. Employees at Electric Cloud and Head Hunters in Lubbock say this ban won’t have an immediate effect, because they stopped selling Juul products about a year ago. Employees noted that most people purchase Juul products at gas stations.

An Electric Cloud worker says their shop was created to help people stop smoking cigarettes and bans like this will only push people back into that habit.

Test says only time will tell, but Juul will probably produce the data the FDA needs, or change its device to meet what the FDA wants to win the appeal. He says these products aren’t going away.

“So, it’s up to us to educate our kiddos and our patients and our families that, onto the the benefits of no tobacco, no alcohol, etc.,” Test said.

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