A rash of inflammatory headlines have put vaping in the crosshairs of public opinion, but a recent article from Forbes online contributor Sally Satel calls for a more balanced look at the big picture. She argues that hastily moving to suppress the growth of vaping with tight regulation could have the opposite effect, pushing potential smokers young and old away from safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
“It may (or may not) be a simple coincidence that the panicky coverage coincides with a recent lawsuit demanding that the Food and Drug Administration speed up regulation of vaping products,“ writes Satel, a psychiatrist and lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine. “But, orchestrated or not, rushing the FDA to regulate puts smokers at risk.”
The suit, filed by a group of prominent anti-tobacco organizations, aims to compel the FDA to retract a deadline extension for vaping products to submit to an expensive and time-consuming retroactive premarket approvals process.. By moving the deadline from August 2018 to 2022, the FDA has allowed independent companies such as JUUL Labs to prosper in the market. Satel explains that the JUUL device, which uses a new design with nicotine salts to better simulate the absorption pattern of a combustible cigarette, was able to claim a 55 percent share of the US vaping market in less than two years. 
Vaping products have quickly become the most popular cessation tool for smokers, and as vaping rises, the American adult smoking rate has declined to reach historic lows. Dr. Satel quotes David Sweanor of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, who confirms that these results reflect a global trend.
“We are now seeing strong evidence in markets around the world that the substitution of non-combustion products is perhaps the most effective anti-smoking intervention we have ever had,” says Sweanor.
Satel reminds us that there are still questions regarding the impact of vaping products, particularly JUUL, among the teens that are the center of this recent controversy. Most research indicates that if a “gateway effect” from e-cigarettes to smoking exists at all, it is small — and the teen smoking rate is dropping to record lows as vaping has come into vogue. The existing information does not, however, account for the meteoric rise of JUUL or the attention drawn by continued alarmism regarding vaping devices. She suggests that new research will need to be conducted to see exactly how JUUL and other factors are changing the teen smoking landscape.
The proper response to these questions, according to Satel, should be analysis and discussion. Instead, she says, “A whiff of moral panic is in the air. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb must be feeling pressure to renege on his welcome commitment to regulate according to a ‘continuum of risk,’ tailoring each product’s regulation to the degree of harm that it poses.”
Archive: Past articles by Sally Satel
 At the time of this article, JUUL Labs controlled 55 percent (now 60 percent) of vapor product sales in stores that are tracked by Nielsen. Nielsen-tracked stores represent only approximately 36 percent of the overall vapor product market and do not include vape shops, online sales, and other outlets. We estimate that JUUL’s overall share of the vapor product market is 25 to 35 percent.