FDA wants e-cigarette makers to extinguish use by kids

The Food and Drug Administration is threatening to pull flavored electronic cigarettes off the market if the tobacco industry doesn’t do more to combat growing use of the products by children and teens

The Food and Drug Administration is threatening to pull flavored electronic cigarettes off the market if the tobacco industry doesn’t do more to combat growing use of the products by children and teens

The government is now threatening to pull electronic cigarettes, such as Juul, a sleek little device that looks like a thumb drive and is popular with teens, off the market if the tobacco industry doesn't do more to combat growing use of such products among youth.

The owners of Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Makers argue that e-cigarettes can help adult smokers transition away from burnt tobacco products. More than 2 million middle and high school students were users of e-cigarettes in 2017, according to the agency.

The FDA said it has sent more than 1,100 warning letters to stores for the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to under-age vapers and issued fines to another 131 shops.

The FDA is trying to set up a framework for regulating e-cigarettes.

If the plans fall short, the FDA could block sales of the products by enforcing a requirement that companies provide detailed design and health data about their products before marketing them. As part of that plan, Gottlieb has suggested some smokers could be directed toward alternative products that deliver nicotine without the carcinogens of cigarettes.

Manufacturers say they've changed from the days of Joe Camel, he said.

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He said "everything is on the table", including criminal charges.

Today's announcement is part of a series of product standards the agency will roll out as part of their Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, which they launched earlier this year. Lisa Murkowski also asked the FDA to end delays.

San Francisco-based Juul said it is working to prevent underage use of its products but added that flavors can help adult smokers quit.

"The reason why we are in this business is for harm reduction because we have seen so many that have smoked for years", Hutsell said. "Hindsight, and the data that's now available to us, fully reveal these trends".

"In my view, they treated these issues like a public relations challenge rather than seriously considering their legal obligations, the public health mandate and the existential threat to these products, and as they did, these risks have mounted", Gottlieb said.

Shortly after the launch, the FDA cracked down on e-liquids marketed to resemble kid-friendly foods like juice boxes, candy and cookies. We think right now we can step into this market with a combination of enforcement actions against the places that we know kids are getting access to these products, which includes retail establishments that are selling them without putting proper restrictions in place or without carding minors, as well as the online sites, where we think that there are a straw purchases being made, where - where someone's going online, buying a lot of these products, and then reselling them to kids. Today's effort notches up that action, becoming, said Gottlieb, the "largest ever coordinated initiative against violative sales in the history of the FDA".

To gain clearance to return to the market, the companies would have to show evidence that the benefits for adults who use e-cigarettes to stop smoking outweigh the risks associated with youth vaping, Bloomberg reported, citing Gottlieb's words that he is "disappointed in the actions the companies have taken" to try to address the problem.

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