Calling teen vaping 'epidemic,' officials weigh flavor ban

US government considers ban on flavored e-cigarettes over youth 'epidemic'

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. It's simply not tolerable.

The FDA has given five companies - Vuse, Blu, JuuL, MarkTen XL, and Logic- 60 days to come up with a plan to keep teenagers from using its devices and sent warning letters to 1,300 companies that it caught selling the device to minors.

The five brands account for 97 per cent of e-cigarette sales in the United States.

Despite this extensive plan, some of the unelected bureaucrats at the FDA would still like to ban flavored e-cigarette products.

Gottlieb cited unreleased federal figures that he says will be made public in coming months. Former smokers who vape may return to traditional cigarettes if flavored e-cigarettes are no longer available. It was "the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA's history", according to the agency.

As of September 1, the FDA said it has conducted 978,290 retail inspections, issued 77,180 warning letters to retailers for violating the law, and initiated 18,560 civil money penalty cases in its checks of retail establishments selling tobacco products. "By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission". "We can not allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine".

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"I think it became clear to FDA that if they didn't get their arms around this issue the use of these products by kids across the nation would undo decades of progress", said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"Far too many teens are being introduced at an early age to e-cigarettes", said Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in the release.

The decision was criticized by anti-smoking advocates who say e-cigarette makers are targeting kids with candy flavors and marketing that portrays their products as flashy, hand-held gadgets. But this "fundamental turning point" will produce results only if the agency follows through by requiring all manufacturers to immediately undergo pre-market review at the FDA, he added.

"We're committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced a year ago".

But Gottlieb said in an address at FDA headquarters that he failed to predict the current "epidemic of addiction" among youth, mainly driven by flavored products. "While we remain committed to advancing policies that promote the potential of e-cigarettes to help adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes, that work can't come at the expense of kids", Gottlieb explained. More than 2 million middle and high school students were users of e-cigarettes in 2017, according to the agency.

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 unsafe territory" by not being in the best interest of public health. 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.

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