Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

United States mulls ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid youth 'epidemic'

United States mulls ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid youth 'epidemic'

USA health officials say teenage use of e-cigarette has reached "epidemic" levels and are calling on the industry to address the problem or risk having their flavored products pulled off the market. 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.

Makers argue that e-cigarettes can help adult smokers transition away from burnt tobacco products.

"I use the word epidemic with great care", said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. "And we're seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market". The company has more than two-thirds of the US e-cigarette market, according to Nielsen data. 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.

Traders said proposed FDA action was less harsh than feared. "It's that simple", Gottlieb said in a statement.

Most of the violations found in the undercover blitz, conducted from June through August, were for the illicit sale of Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL and Logic e-cigarette products, according to the FDA. 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 past year in the Monitoring the Future Study, which began in 1975.

In a release, the FDA said it's taking "historic action" against companies that it believes promotes use and addiction of their products to young vapers.

Studies show that teens who vape are also more likely to go on to smoke traditional burned cigarettes.

The agency said it allowed the extra time to strike an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging the development of innovative tobacco products that may help older smokers quit.

However, he seemed reluctant to give up on flavored nicotine, because he said it appeals to adult cigarette smokers.

At that time, Gottlieb said, the agency didn't foresee the "epidemic'"of adolescent use that has become one of the plan's biggest challenges". "Hindsight, and the data now available to us, reveal these trends". We think right now we can step into this market with a combination of enforcement actions against the places that we know kids are getting access to these products, which includes retail establishments that are selling them without putting proper restrictions in place or without carding minors, as well as the online sites, where we think that there are a straw purchases being made, where - where someone's going online, buying a lot of these products, and then reselling them to kids.

The action is part of the FDA's Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan announced in April.

"Today, we asked five e-cigarette manufacturers to put forward plans to immediately and substantially reverse these trends or face a potential decision by the FDA to reconsider extending the compliance dates for submission of premarket applications", Gottlieb announced.

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