Vape Is Dead. Long Live Sprape?

An over-the-counter nicotine spray might be coming for e-cigarettes' throne.
September 19, 2019, 8:49pm
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A vaping enthusiast of indeterminate gender contemplates sprape. Photo by Danil Nevsky via Stocksy

Not to pit two strong, independent alternatives to tobacco against one another, but a new over-the-counter oral spray might be stepping into the void left in the vaping crackdown’s wake.

A panel of experts not affiliated with the Food and Drug Administration has recommended that the FDA approve an over-the-counter nicotine oral spray for sale in the United States, as Reuters reported on Wednesday. The FDA isn’t obligated to do whatever one of these panels says, but the government body, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, generally tends to follow their recs.

The spray, made by GlaxoSmithKline and sold by GSK developmental partner Johnson & Johnson in 45 countries outside the U.S., delivers one milligram of nicotine to the user with every spray (about a twelfth of what’s in a cigarette, and 1/60th of what’s in a Juul pod). It’s intended to help people quit smoking, much like nicotine gum and patches and even e-cigarettes—but, like gum and patches et al., there’s a chance that users will develop a dependency on the spray, or even use the spray in conjunction with cigarettes, as the panel notes in its recommendation to the FDA.

With wave after wave of restrictive laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes, flavored or otherwise, this over-the-counter oral spray is poised to usurp vaping’s throne should the FDA end up approving it—though it’s also poised to become just as uncool and ineffective as nicotine gum and patches, which don’t even do the intended thing they’re supposed to do and help people quit smoking in the long term. If only GSK had tried to launch this thing during Binaca’s mid-90s cultural peak!

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