FDA Considering Ban on Flavored E-cigarettes

A man breathes in from an e-cigarette at a vape shop in London on Aug. 17 2018

A man breathes in from an e-cigarette at a vape shop in London on Aug. 17 2018

Nearly 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in the prior 30 days.

Produced by San Francisco-based Juul Labs Inc., Juul devices resemble a USB thumb drive and have become popular among students.

Many use fruit- or candy-flavored liquids that critics say appeal to kids, and risk addicting them to nicotine.

And not only is the agency putting a spotlight on underage use of e-cigarettes, it also says it's making a series of "historic" enforcement actions and the largest coordinated enforcement efforts in the FDA's history. The academy said Gottlieb has the authority to intervene in the market to protect minors, and any further delay runs the risk that "a generation of young people will become addicted to these risky products".

WASH/LA-The Food and Drug Administration said on September 12-they are considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in response to an "epidemic" of young people using e-cigarettes, the agency's leader said. They noted the survey did not ask specifically about Juul, a sleek, heavily-marketed e-cigarette brand that exploded onto the market and accounts for 70 percent of USA sales, according to analyst estimates. It is working with Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to address the access and appeal of these products, and to launch a public education campaign.

While the health risks for e-cigarette smoking are still being conducted, there are decades worth of studies on traditional cigarettes highlighting the awful side effects of smoking. The scientific consensus, however, is still out on the long-term health effects of vaping. The emphasis on stopping marketing to kids was underway even before the summer.

Gottlieb announced the agency sent 1,100 warning letters to stores for the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18, and issued 131 fines to stores that continued to violate the restrictions on sales to minors.


The undercover investigation took place from June through the end of August, with the majority of violations involving the sale of products by the five manufacturers, which make up more than 97 percent of the US e-cigarette market. They also prohibited certain retailers who had violations from selling tobacco products for specific periods of time.

"In my view, they treated these issues like a public relations challenge rather than seriously considering their legal obligations, the public health mandate and the existential threat to these products, and as they did, these risks have mounted", Gottlieb said.

The agency's latest action follows a sting operation in the spring that targeted businesses selling JUUL brand e-cigarette products to minors, which resulted in more than 60 warning letters and fines.

In a speech to FDA employees, Gottlieb said that rapid spike in teen use, emerging sales trends and concerns among parents and teachers convinced him that underage use of e-cigarettes has become a full-blown crisis that must be forcefully addressed. Now the FDA has conducted 978,290 retail inspections, issued 77,180 warning letters to retailers for violating the law and initiated approximately 18,560 civil money penalty cases, as of September 1, 2018. On youth access, we have common aims. Imperial Brands, which recently removed "Tobacco" from its name, is now offering alternative caffeinated products.

Why is the use of e-cigarettes by young people so concerning?

Conley called Gottlieb's initiative "nothing more than a gift to the tobacco industry", whose stock prices jumped on news of the FDA's vaping crackdown.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices.

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