Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

FDA may ban flavored e-cigarettes, cites teen use 'epidemic'

FDA may ban flavored e-cigarettes, cites teen use 'epidemic'

It's simply not tolerable.

The government agency has ordered five leading brands, including Juul, which has 72% of the market as of mid-August, according to Wells Fargo, as well as BAT's Vuse, Altria's MarkTen, Imperial's Blue E-cigs and Japan Tobacco's Logic, to submit plans within 60 days detailing how they will combat excessive teen use of their products.

Juul Labs, which controls about 70% of the market, said in its statement that "appropriate flavors" play a role in adults changing their smoking habits, but added that they "are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people".

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is strongly considering banning all flavored e-cigarettes. "If they fail to do so, or if the plans do not appropriately address this issue, the FDA will consider whether it would be appropriate to revisit the current policy that results in these products remaining on the market without a marketing order from the agency".

Gottlieb cited preliminary data that has not yet been published, but which he said shows "youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply".

"We're especially focused on the flavored e-cigarettes".

And some of the retailers that received warning letters are still advertising and selling these products, he said. The products being targeted are: Juul, Altria Group Inc.'s MarkTen, Fontem Ventures's blu, British American Tobacco's Vuse and Logic. The premise of such threats is that the interests of adults who might want to switch from smoking to a far less hazardous form of nicotine consumption should be sacrificed for the sake of curtailing e-cigarette use by minors, which is already illegal.

JUUL was among those to receive FDA warnings and requests for further details about its marketing practices.


"We're committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced previous year", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

"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".

"Today we can see that this epidemic of addiction was emerging when we first announced our plan last summer", said Gottlieb.

Gottlieb noted that the FDA continues to support the availability of products to help adult smokers quit, but 'that work can't come at the expense of kids, ' he said.

He also notes that while many adults who use e-cigarettes report that these products helped them stop smoking combustible tobacco, "the benefits of vaping devices for cessation has not yet been borne out at the population level in clinical or observational studies".

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 risky territory" by not being in the best interest of public health. "I think education is the answer to fixing the problem, just like how we have educated young people about alcohol and other tobacco products over the years", Delaney said.

The FDA point out that, despite lacking tobacco and plenty of the nasties present in normal cigarettes, nicotine itself is hardly a benign substance.

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