FDA puts e-cigarette companies on notice over teen access

FDA puts e-cig makers on notice

FDA puts e-cig makers on notice

The FDA is calling the use of e-cigarettes by young people an epidemic.

According to the FDA, e-cigarettes have become the most common tobacco product used by teens in the past two years. It's simply not tolerable.

In the next 60 days, the FDA plans to investigate the five e-cigarette companies' marketing and sales practices, with possible "boots on the ground inspections", Gottlieb said.

Despite the fact that they can not legally be sold to anyone under 18, e-cigarettes - hand-held vaporizers that create aerosols from liquids typically packed with nicotine and other chemicals, often including flavorings - are now the most popular tobacco product among high school students, recent federal data shows. Teen use of electronic cigarettes is growing-especially the Juul device, which is considered so fetch in many underage circles that it has reached an "epidemic proportion", writes the FDA, according to the New York Times. For example, PM's is pushing to advertise its heat-not-burn iQOS devices as less harmful than traditional cigarettes, while BAT has planned to expand its e-cigarette and vaping offerings from 12 markets to 48 by 2018.

"Let me be clear: Everything is on the table, including all our civil and criminal enforcement tools", Gottlieb said in a speech at FDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. 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 US sales, according to analyst estimates. It is also illegal for retail merchants to sell e-cigarette products to youth under age 18.

Juul Labs said it would work with the FDA on its request and is committed to preventing underage use of its product.

'We won't allow the current trends in youth access and use to continue, even if it means putting limits in place that reduce adult uptake of these products, ' Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb recently began to ask whether the use of Juul and other similar products by kids is overshadowing any benefit to adult smokers using the devices to help them quit cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, such as Juul, have become a popular alternative to smoking. On Wednesday, it announced "historic action" against more than 1,300 retailers who illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarettes to minors during a crack down on retailers this summer.

Makers argue that e-cigarettes can help adult smokers transition away from burnt tobacco products. If the blueprints don't promise to "substantially reverse" the youth-use trend, Gottlieb said the agency will consider steps that could lead to the temporary or permanent removal of flavored products from the market. Short of that, he suggests the FDA might force companies to stop offering e-liquid flavors that appeal to minors, which are an important factor in quit attempts by adult smokers. The FDA claims that more than 2 million middle schoolers and high school students were regularly vaping past year, with underage use reaching "an epidemic proportion".

The Vapor Technology Association, which says it represents over 600 vaping manufacturers and distributors, also supports limiting teen access, but added that the new actions by the FDA ventured "into unsafe territory" by not being in the best interest of public health.

The FDA has also been revamping its regulation on tobacco, including lowering the amount of nicotine in conventional cigarettes.

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