FDA Takes “Historic Action” Against E-Cigarette Makers and Sellers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 12 warned 5 e-cigarette manufacturers, including Juul, that they have 2 months to figure out how they’ll prove to the agency that they’ve taken steps to prevent the sale of their products to young people. [1]

Experts say there has been an “epidemic” rise in teen use of e-cigarettes, which are typically sold with liquid nicotine that comes in a variety of tantalizing flavors that appeal to young people.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned the FDA could take the step of requiring companies to:

  • Change their sales and marketing practices
  • Stop distributing products to retailers who sell to kids
  • Remove flavored e-cigarettes – and nicotine products – from the market
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens

Gottlieb said:

“I use the word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”

Read: Nearly Half of U.S. Teens Will See an E-cigarette Ad This Year

About 97% of the e-cigarette market is dominated by Juul, MarkTen, Vuse, Blu, and Logic, according to the FDA. Over the next 60 days, the 5 companies’ marketing and sales practices will be under intense scrutiny by the health regulator, and they could face “boots on the ground inspections,” Gottlieb said.

The commissioner said the FDA will also increase federal enforcement actions on e-cigarette sales to minors in convenience stores and other retail sites.

A Historic Crackdown

On September 12, the FDA announced “historic action” against upwards of 1,300 retailers who illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarettes to kids over the summer months of 2018. According to Gottlieb, it was the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the agency’s history.

The agency will closely investigate “straw purchases” in which adults purchase e-cigarettes in bulk from online stores and resell them to minors. It is illegal to sell tobacco products to youths under 18.

Gottlieb said:

“If young adults go online and buy 100 units of a product to sell to teens, that activity ought to be easy for a product manufacturer to identify.”

Manufacturers who choose not to investigate these bulk purchases will face “appropriate consequences,” according to the FDA commissioner.

“Let me be clear: Everything is on the table. This includes the resources of our civil and criminal enforcement tools.”

He added: [2]

“Industry must step up to this challenge. They say they’ve changed from the days of Joe Camel. But look at what’s happening right now, on our watch and on their watch. They must demonstrate that they’re truly committed to keeping these new products out of the hands of kids and they must find a way to reverse this trend.”

Read: 30 Minutes of Vaping Equals 5 Minutes of Cigarette Smoking?

The e-cigarette manufacturers say they will comply with the new rules and that they are working with the FDA to ensure young people don’t get their hands on their products.

JUUL CEO Kevin Burns said in a statement:

“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. Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them a true alternative to combustible cigarettes.”

Risky Business

A report released in January by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that e-cigarettes pose health risks, though they may be less risky than traditional cigarettes. Health experts are more concerned that e-cigarette use could lead to the use of traditional tobacco cigarettes, however.

Source: Daily Mail

Read: Vaping May be Overriding Efforts to Get Kids to Quit Smoking

In the report, a national panel of public health experts state that e-cigarette use may prompt teens and young adults to try regular cigarettes, thus increasing their risk for addiction. There is no scientific proof that vaping is a gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes, however, and the authors were unable to determine whether young people were simply trying cigarettes or becoming regular smokers. [3]

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] NPR

[3] The New York Times

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens

Daily Mail