Calling teen vaping epidemic, officials weigh flavor ban

FDA puts e-cig makers on notice

FDA puts e-cig makers on notice

The products being targeted are: Juul, MarkTen by the Altria Group, the maker of Malboro cigarettes in the US, Blu by Fontem Ventures, Vuse, by British American Tobacco, the company that makes Camel cigarettes, and a device called Logic.

The FDA warns that teenage use of e-cigs has reached "epidemic proportions" (2m middle and high school students reportedly used e-cigarettes regularly last year).

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner, said his agency issued 1,300 warning letters and fines after an undercover "blitz" this summer pinpointing convenience stores and gas stations that sold vaping devices to juveniles.

In April, JUUL sent thousands of pages of records to be reviewed by the FDA - but apparently, it didn't bode well for the nicotine king.

"Nicotine can be harmful to the still-developing brain of an adolescent", said Mitchell Zeller, the Director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products.

The FDA is giving Juul and other manufacturers 60 days to share plans to reduce youth sales or face possible criminal or civil action.

"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. He listed three reasons the company became so successful: It figured out how to deliver high levels of nicotine in a way that wasn't harsh; it packaged the product in a streamlined, clever way; and it developed a social media and advertising campaign that made a Juul e-cigarette "cool and hip".

The FDA said on Wednesday that it is revisiting that policy and that it may reverse the extension on compliance dates if the five e-cigarette manufacturers don't meet its demands.

It marks a shift in the agency's tone on e-cigarettes.

Juul owns about 72% of the U.S. market for e-cigarette sales, according to Wells Fargo.

The FDA is wanting the industry to address two major areas when it comes to discouraging minors.

Juul Labs, which controls about 70% of the market, said in its order that "acceptable flavors" play a job in adults changing their smoking habits, but added that they "are committed to combating underage employ of our product, and we want to be allotment of the resolution in preserving e-cigarettes out of the hands of children". 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.

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) threatened to pull e-cigarettes from shelves if manufacturers do not control "widespread" teen use. "Juuling", along with "vaping", has become a common term for e-cigarette use by teenagers on social media and at U.S. high schools.

The agency also ordered 12 online retailers to halt their continued marketing of e-liquids resembling kid-friendly products like candy and cookies. And in fact, the FDA's announced a plan to basically slash the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to try to wean more Americans off tobacco cigarettes.

Ana Navas-Acien, a Columbia University professor who also tracks the issue, said some form of government regulation is needed "as companies are unlikely to implement voluntary strategies to effectively cut use among youth". The FDA may also limit the sale of certain flavored products, Gottlieb said.

If the companies refuse to revise their marketing practices or prove they are willing to cut off retailers that sell their products to children, then the will knock them out of the market until they make reforms.

"There is no question that a lot of the youth use is being driven by Juul", Gottlieb said.

Dr Gottlieb said the agency plans to launch a national campaign to raise awareness of the risks to teens, as it sees signs that the number of users is increasing.

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