The vaping industry in the 28 countries of the European Union (EU) recently fell victim to the sweeping regulations of the Tobacco Products Directive which officially went into action on May 20. Only days later, the EU’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency made another announcement that the e-juice flavoring of Diacetyl would be banned, along with several other ingredients.
Diacetyl is very controversial, even in the United States. In July of 2015, a story was spreading like wildfire on the Internet that Diacetyl is a contributing cause of “popcorn lung,” a disease that may or may not be associated with vaping. Whether or not popcorn lung is a real disease, the vaping industry tends to believe that Diacetyl-infused e-juices are not healthy over the long term. As a result, most manufacturers avoid using this flavoring ingredient, but there are still a few that use it only sparingly.
According to the FDA, Diacetyl is regarded as a "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS) food product. Retailers can legally use Diacetyl in their e-juices and are only required to report it to the FDA if the ingredient comprises more than 1% of the total product. But thanks to the Tobacco Products Directive of the EU, even products with less than 1% Diacetyl are now banned in Europe, even if they are manufactured in the U.S.
The Five Pawns Controversy
In 2015, around the time that the popcorn lung story was circulating, a company named Cloud9Vaping decided to run some tests on their competitors’ products to determine if they were using Diacetyl. After publishing their findings on the company website, many of their competitors understandably got a bit upset. One of these companies was Five Pawns, Inc, a California-based e-juice manufacturer.
Five Pawns said that Cloud9Vaping’s data was fraudulent and demanded a retraction. Cloud9Vaping held firm. After a rather harsh social media war, Five Pawns decided to publish the results of an independent scientific analysis, which also showed traces of Diacetyl but to a slightly lesser degree. Now, whether or not Five Pawns was truly using Diacetyl is not really the point. The most positive benefits coming from the debate are:
- 1.The vaping community became self-educated on the dangers of Diacetyl.
- 2.The vaping industry decided to self-regulate to avoid the use of Diacetyl in its products.
Many in the American vaping industry believe that these are the sorts of issues that the FDA should be regulating. Many feel that the FDA e-cig regulations are a complete misuse and abuse of their authority. Had the FDA done its job correctly in the beginning, the agency would have banned Diacetyl just like the EU did last week. Instead, the FDA gave Diacetyl the green light.
It is questions like these that are leading many scientific and political experts, both in the United States and in Europe, to question the legality and reasoning behind the very controversial FDA e-cig regulations. Luckily, the American vaping industry has nearly two years to change the government’s mind.