Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Truth Initiative CEO Says FDA Action on E-Cigarettes is Not Enough

Truth Initiative CEO Says FDA Action on E-Cigarettes is Not Enough

About 3.6 million kids and teenagers in the USA vape, the FDA says.

"The proposed measure by the FDA is long overdue to protect the health of African Americans and to reduce the deleterious impact of menthol smoking and tobacco use overall on America's health", NAACP health program director Marjorie Innocent said in a statement.

"You'll still be able to go into a vape shop and behind the black curtain will be the mango flavors, or in gas stations and convenience stores they'll still be selling mint flavor, which kind of got lumped in with menthol but really is a candy flavor", Koval said.

Scott Gottlieb of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration disclosed the plans on Thursday.

Since a year ago, the number of middle- and high-schoolers using e-cigarettes has exploded from 2.1 million to 3.6 million, according to Gottlieb, who called it an "epidemic".

The agency has faced mounting pressure to act on e-cigarettes amid their surging popularity among US teenagers in recent years. "All the flavors were out there already", said Kenneth Warner, a University of MI emeritus public health professor who is a leading authority on smoking and health.

The proposed rules aim to restrict sales of all flavored vaping cartridges - other than tobacco, mint and menthol - to sales at "age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification", said an FDA statement.

The restrictions are mainly aimed at reducing smoking in kids: About half of teens who smoke cigarettes choose menthols and flavored e-cigarettes have been blamed for a recent increase in teen vaping rates.

Health experts applauded the FDA move.

"I believe these menthol-flavored products represent one of the most common and pernicious routes by which kids initiate on combustible cigarettes", he said, adding that "menthol products disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities".

The FDA is also attempting to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, though those proposals could take two years to pass regulatory hurdles.

Juul and tobacco giant Altria Group Inc had announced measures to pull flavored e-cigarette products from retail outlets, after the FDA threatened in September to ban Juul and other leading e-cigarette products unless their makers took steps to prevent use by minors.

"I don't want to create a situation where the combustible products have features that make them more attractive than the non-combustible products".

"The banning of flavors, popular among teens, would definitely be an important step in curbing the growing epidemic of e-cigarettes among youth", said Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health, a network of hospitals in NY.

"We're really pleased that the FDA is taking action on menthol and on flavors in little cigars", Koval said.

On Wall Street, tobacco stocks slid on the news, continuing a decline that began last week as media reports warned of the impending regulations.

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