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FDA cracks down on sale, marketing of e-cigarettes to kids

E-Cigs-ehp.122-A244.g0031-300x199The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a series of enforcement actions Wednesday on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids. The agency issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover sting of retail and online stores this summer.

As a result of these violations – and other indications that e-cigarette use among youth has hit epidemic levels – FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said that the agency intends to take new and significant steps to address this challenge.

‘I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products,” Gottlieb said. “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. We cannot allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine.”

In the coming weeks, the FDA will take additional action under its Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to immediately address the youth access to, and the appeal of, these products, he said.

“Today, we asked five e-cigarette manufacturers to put forward plans to immediately and substantially reverse these trends, or face a potential decision by the FDA to reconsider extending the compliance dates for submission of premarket applications.”

The FDA remains committed to its goals to reduce tobacco-related disease and death, including its efforts to reduce the nicotine in combustible products to render cigarettes minimally or non-addictive, Gottlieb said.

One part of the agency’s youth tobacco plan is increased enforcement. Most of the violations in the 1,300 warning letters and fines were for the illegal sale of five e-cigarette products – Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL, and Logic. These five brands currently make up more than 97 percent of the U.S. market for e-cigarettes.

In addition, the FDA also issued 12 warning letters to online retailers that are selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids looking like kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies. The agency took action on these products in May and, then they were no longer supposed to be sold with the offending labeling and advertising by the companies that received the May warning letters. However, the retailers receiving the warning letters Wednesday are still advertising and selling the products. Several of these retailers were also cited for illegally selling the products to minors.

The FDA has asked manufacturers to determine how they can reduce the use of their products among kids. If the agency doesn't like its plans, then it will consider banning certain flavors that appeal to youth.

These should be banned now. The voluntary methods aren't working.

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

This use by children and teens is of concern because the developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction.

Comments

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Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

I've been surprised by the number of young people who are smoking either real cigarettes or e-cigarettes. It seems like we need more ads against smoking, like we did decades back, because it causes so many diseases.

Rita

Hi Rebecca,

It's good the FDA is beginning to take action on this. However, it's disappointing they have moved so slowly, causing the use of e-cigarettes to reach epidemic proportions.

The FDA has asked manufacturers to determine how they can reduce the use of their products among kids. If the agency doesn't like their plans, then it will consider banning certain flavors that appeal to youth.

These should be banned now. The voluntary methods aren't working.

Rita

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