U.S. FDA considering ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Alicia Farmer
September 14, 2018

"This starts with the actions we're taking today to crack down on retail sales of e-cigarettes to minors", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "It be simply no longer tolerable".

A JUUL spokeswoman told the NYT:"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".

The agency is also giving companies that make the most popular e-cigarettes among teenagers - JUUL, Vuse, Blu, MarkTen XL and Logic - 60 days to prove they can keep the devices away from minors. Analysts at Wells Fargo estimated that Americans bought more than $2.3 billion worth of e-cigarettes between August 2017 and last month, and they expect annual sales to reach almost $4 billion this year.

"The FDA should immediately move to regulate flavored e-cigarettes, instead of waiting until 2022, as it is now planning to do", Bloomberg said in a statement.

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

Shares of Big Tobacco companies surged in trading Wednesday.

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

On Wednesday, it announced "historic action" against more than 1,300 retailers who illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarettes to minors during a crack down on retailers this summer.

Juul CEO Kevin Burns has said restricting flavors "will negatively impact current adult smokers" who want to switch from smoking to vaping.

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Last spring, the ALA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and four other public health groups filed a federal lawsuit against the FDA challenging the decision to delay federal review of e-cigarettes, including "candy flavored products that appeal to kids". Many researchers say the devices are less risky than traditional, combustible cigarettes because they don't contain tobacco's cancer-causing ingredients.

Despite the fact that not one person casted a vote for Gottlieb, his board at the FDA has the future of flavored e-cigarettes in their hands. The announcement marks an about-face for the agency, which in 2016 granted a grace period for e-cigarettes already on the market until the manufacturers submitted products for FDA review.

If the blueprints don't promise to "substantially reverse" the youth-use trend, Gottlieb said the agency will consider steps that could lead to the temporary or permanent removal of flavored products from the market.

Traders said proposed FDA action was less harsh than feared. Hindsight, and the data now available to us, reveal these trends.

As per the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2 million middle school, high school, and college students use the battery-powered devices to heat liquid-based nicotine into an inhalable vapor.

Budding research on e-cigarettes also suggests that these flavors contain terpenes that may be more damaging to the lungs than other flavors are. "Clearly the FDA knows who the industry culprits are in this epidemic and as such should exercise its full regulatory authority over these products rather than allow the industry to voluntarily self-correct".

Gottlieb called the action "ancient" and said it changed into as soon as the finest coordinated enforcement effort in the agency's ancient past.

Since 2017, FDA officials have discussed e-cigarettes as a potential tool to ween adult smokers off cigarettes. Gottlieb would be on much firmer ethical ground if he took the opposite position: In trying to stop teenagers from vaping, we won't deny adult smokers access to products that could save their lives.

Bottles of flavor packets for e-cigarettes stand displayed in a tobacco shop in New York on June 23, 2015.

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