FDA mulls ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Desiree Burns
September 13, 2018

In April the agency launched a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, created to address some of the known public health risks, such as flavors, that contribute to adolescent use of e-cigarettes.

The warning from the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday marks a stark shift in the agency's tone on e-cigarettes, which have become the most used tobacco product among teenagers.

The steps announced Wednesday are just the initial elements of these new efforts, Gottlieb said.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency will soon release data that show a "substantial increase" in youth vaping this year compared with 2017. The "epidemic" perceived by the FDA is mainly an epidemic of e-cigarette experimentation, and even that trend seems to have reversed, judging from the latest NYTS results.

But the other action we would take immediately is look at removing these flavored products in the market.

The data is expected to be published in the coming months.

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.

"We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion", Gottlieb said. "E-cigs have become an nearly ubiquitous - and risky - trend among teens", added Gottlieb. "The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we're seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end".

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According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' president Matthew Myers, the FDA has made a crucial step toward curtailing youth use of e-cigarettes.

Youth vaping is an "epidemic", as far as the FDA is concerned, and if manufacturers don't submit "robust" plans to prevent kids from getting their hands on flavored e-cigarettes, the agency will take action-possibly going so far as to order the flavored products off the shelves.

Today's announcement is part of a series of product standards the agency will roll out as part of their Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, which they launched earlier this year.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a nicotine liquid into a vapor that can be inhaled.

Manufacturers offer and market e-cigarette flavors that appeal to minors, including candy, bubble gum, and fruit flavors. The companies sell Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL, and Logic e-cigarette brands, which account for 97 percent of USA e-cigarette sales, according to FDA. In some states, one must be 21 to buy them. "As health professionals, we strongly believe that access to nicotine products, and that advertising of nicotine products that appeals to teens, should be restricted to minimize youth exposure".

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

The FDA is giving the five top-selling e-cigarette brands - Juul Labs Inc., Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu, and Logic - 60 days to provide plans for how they will mitigate sales to minors. So we don't want to - we don't want to extinguish this opportunity entirely, because we do see some potential benefit from having these products on the market as a way for adult smokers to get access to nicotine, without all the harmful effects of combusting tobacco. They're generally considered a less risky alternative to regular cigarettes.

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