Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

FDA Considering Ban on Flavored E-cigarettes

FDA Considering Ban on Flavored E-cigarettes

The organisation warned the country's five largest e-cigarette makers that their products - Juul, Blu, MarkTen, Vuse and Logic - could be banned unless the companies could prove within 60 days that they had effective plans to stop sales to children.

"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", Juul spokesperson Victoria Davis said in a statement provided to TIME.

"Unfortunately, I now have good reason to believe that it's reached nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottleib said in a briefing.

"Even though a 2017 BPS Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows the overall percentage of district students who reported using electronic cigarettes declined by 9 percent, we are always concerned about students engaging in risky behaviors", BPS said in an April letter to the community.

"E-cigs have become an nearly ubiquitous - and unsafe - trend among teens", the commissioner said in a statement.

"Given the alarming spike in e-cigarette use among Minnesota youth, we need a full-court press to prevent another generation from getting hooked on nicotine", said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in the release.

Gottlieb announced a number of steps the agency plans to take as part of a broader crackdown on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to minors.

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More than 2 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2017, the FDA said, and e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product by youth.

"We're committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced previous year", Gottlieb said. However, a recent study in Pediatrics discovered that teens who smoked e-cigarettes had higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals in their bodies than non-smokers.

But the other action we would take immediately is look at removing these flavored products in the market. Lisa Murkowski also asked the FDA to end delays. That could lead to removal of some major flavored e-cigarette brands, including the popular products made by Juul Labs Inc., if they do not address the issue to the agency's satisfaction. "Hindsight, and the data that's now available to us, fully reveal these trends".

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.

Shortly after the launch, the FDA cracked down on e-liquids marketed to resemble kid-friendly foods like juice boxes, candy and cookies. It is also illegal for retail merchants to sell e-cigarette products to youth under age 18.

The FDA also targeted Juul retailers this spring, issuing 56 warning letters and six civil monetary penalties. Today's effort notches up that action, becoming, said Gottlieb, the "largest ever coordinated initiative against violative sales in the history of the FDA".

"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 said.

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