FDA Threatens to Ban E-Cigarettes If Teenagers Keep Using Them

Calling teen vaping 'epidemic,' officials weigh flavor ban

The products being targeted are: Juul, MarkTen by the Altria Group, the maker of Malboro cigarettes in the US, Blu by Fontem Ventures, Vuse, by British American Tobacco, the company that makes Camel cigarettes, and a device called Logic.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called the agency's steps the largest coordinated enforcement effort in his agency's history and said it was prompted by alarming new evidence that electronic cigarette use by minors has risen to levels he called "simply not tolerable".

The FDA said it has sent more than 1,100 warning letters to stores for the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to under-age vapers and issued fines to another 131 shops.

"The action FDA threatened to "consider" using against the manufacturers of five e-cigarette brands - removing certain products that are clearly aimed at youth from the market - is the very authority the American Lung Association has urged the FDA to actively use, broadly".

The FDA furthermore centered Juul stores this spring, issuing 56 warning letters and 6 civil monetary penalties. "These five brands now comprise over 97 percent of the USA market for e-cigarettes", the FDA said.

Budding research on e-cigarettes also suggests that these flavors contain terpenes that may be more damaging to the lungs than other flavors are.

Should that ban occur the fast-growing industry would take a significant hit with all the major e-cigarette companies selling non-nicotine fruit flavors.

Last year, the FDA announced that it would delay regulations that could have halted the sales of many e-cigarettes.

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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. "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", he said. It is considering restricting e-cigarette manufacturers from selling flavored nicotine liquid or making the products undergo an agency review.

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. Of the 3.6 million middle and high school students who said in 2017 they were tobacco product users, 2.1 million used e-cigarettes, Bloomberg reports, citing CDC stats. That's the claim from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulators, who Wednesday, issued an ultimatum to San Francisco-based JUUL Labs, and four other makers of flavored vape products: Prove these types of smokes aren't getting in the hands of children, or the federal government may pull the products from store shelves. "And they [teens] have adopted it", Gould said.

In response to the news from the FDA shares in tobacco companies rose sharply, with some gaining as much as eight percent.

"I'll be clear. The FDA won't tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products", Gottlieb said Wednesday.

"We're seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market", Gottlieb said.

"These alternative nicotine delivery devices can be important for helping adults get off of combustible tobacco as an offramp", said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on Thursday.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the steps announced by Gottlieb "have the potential to make a fundamental difference". Juul, a company that has become popular with teenagers has said they will "work proactively with the request". And it highlighted e-cigarettes' role as a way for adult smokers to transition off cigarettes.

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