The Food and Drug Administration has taken new steps to stop young people from using e-cigarettes.
According to the FDA website, a “historic action” has been taken against more than 1,300 retailers and five major manufacturers due to their roles in perpetuating youth access.
On Wednesday, the FDA announced enforcement actions related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids. It is calling it the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history.
In June, a government survey found teen vaping seemed to be holding steady last year. Some experts were cautious about the results, however. They noted the survey did not ask specifically about JUUL, a sleek, heavily-marketed e-cigarette brand that exploded onto the market and accounts for 70 percent of U.S. sales, according to analyst estimates.
More than 1,300 warning letters were issued and retailers who illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors were issued fines.
E-cigarettes are vapor-emitting devices that have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. despite little research on their long-term effects, including whether they are helpful in helping smokers quit. They’re generally considered a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes. But health officials have warned nicotine in e-cigarettes is harmful to developing brains.
“We’re committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced last year. But at the same time, we see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” stated FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
In addition, the FDA also issued 12 warning letters to other online retailers that are selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies.
The agency is asking each company to submit plans describing how they will address the widespread youth access and use of their products to the FDA within 60 days.
If the companies fail to submit these plans, the FDA could revisit whether they believe it is appropriate to ban certain products that could be contributing to the rise in youth use from the market.
A representative from JUUL sent a statement to our newsroom stating the following:
“JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request. 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 with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes. Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch. By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission.”