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.
US health officials on Wednesday declared the teen use of e-cigarettes an epidemic and issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to entities related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to minors.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced the plan Wednesday, saying the agency is giving the manufacturers of Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, Blu, and Logic-which make up more than 97% of the United States e-cigarette market-60 days to submit their plans, USA Today reports.
In a statement, Juul Labs said "appropriate flavors" play a role in adults changing their smoking habits, but said it would work with the FDA: "We 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".
And if the trends in use that we're seeing right now continue, we're going to have to take even more dramatic actions. In just three years, it has captured about 70 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to Bloomberg.
"Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes", Juul said in a statement. "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".
"They come out with cherry flavored vodka and birthday cake flavored vodka".
The FDA says it has issued "more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers" as a result of "a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors". Former smokers who vape may return to traditional cigarettes if flavored e-cigarettes are no longer available. "And as far as the liquids we carry, we do not pick up brands that have the potential to appeal to children, because we have that responsibility", said Hutsell. "As health professionals, we strongly believe that access to nicotine products, and that advertising of nicotine products that appeals to teens, should be restricted to minimize youth exposure". The agency issued 12 warning letters to companies they declared have deceptive marketing labels on e-liquids. If underage consumption does not justify a ban on tobacco cigarettes (and I don't think it does), it can not possibly justify a ban on competing products that are much safer.
Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog said Juul is the brand "most at risk" from an FDA crackdown and that a potential ban on the company's products would boost Altria and other cigarette makers that also sell e-cigarettes.
While applauding the FDA for today's actions, some said the agency should increase its efforts to protect the nation's youth from the dangers of vaping. That initiative emerged from the agency's broader plan to regulate nicotine and tobacco, unveiled in July 2017, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
"What we have learned from our experience with cigarettes and other products, is it is important to restrict sales to kids, but if you make products appealing to kids, market them in ways to attract kids, you can be certain kids will get them", Myers told AFP.
The FDA has also been revamping its regulation on tobacco, including lowering the amount of nicotine in conventional cigarettes.