USA government considers ban on flavored e-cigarettes over youth 'epidemic'

Desiree Burns
September 14, 2018

The government is now threatening to pull electronic cigarettes, such as Juul, a sleek little device that looks like a thumb drive and is popular with teens, off the market if the tobacco industry doesn't do more to combat growing use of such products among youth.

According to the FDA, e-cigarettes have become the most common tobacco product used by teens in the past two years. "While we remain committed to advancing policies that promote the potential of e-cigarettes to help adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes, that work can't come at the expense of kids", Gottlieb explained.

In a speech at FDA headquarters, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency would also revisit its compliance policy that extended the dates for manufacturers of flavored e-cigarettes to submit applications for premarket authorization. The number of regular users is much smaller, and nearly all of them are current or former smokers.

These levels of nicotine are highly addictive, particularly to the developing brains of children and teenagers.

Shares of British American Tobacco, which owns the Vuse brand, closed up almost 6 percent, while shares of cigarette-maker Imperial Brands PLC, which owns Blu, rose more than 3 percent. "Hindsight, and the data that's now available to us, fully reveal these trends". "We're going to have to take action".

"We as a company focus on mature marketing and we are not in the business to sell to kids".

The agency is now demanding plans to reign in youth-targeted marketing campaigns and control illegal sales of their products to minors from Juul and four other e-cigarette makers within 60 days.

While e-cigarettes are thought to be less harmful than regular cigarettes, it's still unclear of the impact of long-term use.

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However, there is little consensus about how to regulate the industry. The FDA is now developing a survey to determine what percentage of youth vapers are using Juul products, Gottlieb said.

"By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors", the company said in a statement.

Altria Group and British American Tobacco gained the most intraday since 2008, rising as much as 7.7 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.

"In addition, today the FDA also issued 12 warning letters to other online retailers that are selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies". Despite the constant warnings that increased experimentation with e-cigarettes would lead to more smoking, consumption of conventional cigarettes by teenagers stubbornly continues to decline, reaching a record low previous year in the Monitoring the Future Study, which began in 1975. Gottlieb called the action the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the agency's history.

"If young adults go online and buy 100 units of a product to sell to teens, that activity ought to be easy for a product manufacturer to identify", said Gottlieb.

"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.

"I'm here to tell them today that this prior approach is over", he said.

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