Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

FDA threatens stores that sell Juul and flavored e-cigarettes to kids

A Juul vaping system with accessory pods in varying flavors on May 02 2018 in Washington DC US government considers ban on flavored e-cigarettes over youth 'epidemic'
Anna Jefferson | 14 September, 2018, 15:39

"Juuling", along with "vaping", has become a common term for e-cigarette use by teenagers on social media and at U.S. high schools. "This starts with the actions we're taking today to crack down on retail sales of e-cigarettes to minors", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. It's simply not tolerable.

Juul, MarkTen, Vuse, Blu and Logic control 97% of the e-cigarette market, the FDA said. The FDA is investigating whether some products on the market were introduced after the 2016 date and may need to halt sales, though didn't name which ones may be violating the law. "If they fail to do so, or if the plans do not appropriately address this issue, the FDA will consider whether it would be appropriate to revisit the current policy that results in these products remaining on the market".

The FDA is in the process of rolling out a sweeping anti-smoking created to make it easier for smokers to quit by cutting the nicotine levels in regular cigarettes.

To the extent that teenagers who otherwise would be smoking are vaping instead, that is an unambiguous gain in public health terms, since the latter habit is much less unsafe.

"Tooday, we can see that this epidemic of addiction was emerging when we first announced our plan last summer", Gottlieb said.

In its enforcement action, the FDA recently sent nearly 1,200 letters to brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers warning them that they could face penalties for allegedly selling e-cigarettes to people under 18. "Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch", Burns said in a statement.

As of September 1, the FDA said it has conducted 978,290 retail inspections, issued 77,180 warning letters to retailers for violating the law, and initiated 18,560 civil money penalty cases in its checks of retail establishments selling tobacco products.

Why is the use of e-cigarettes by young people so concerning?

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Although Gottlieb conceded that e-cigarettes may help adults stop smoking, it seems as though he won't be swayed by Juul's work to prevent kids from accessing the product. JUUL alone has more than 70% of e-cigarette sales in the US according to recent Nielsen data.

"Today's announcement will represent a fundamental turning point, if but only if, FDA formally requires all manufacturers to comply with these requirements and FDA reverses its policy and requires that all of these products undergo premarket review now, not four years from now", he said.

Gottlieb said he plans in the coming weeks to debut additional enforcement actions targeting companies that may be marketing products to children in ways that are misleading.

School and health advocates are praising the federal crackdown on e-cigarette companies after the Food and Drug Administration gave companies and retailers 60 days to prove they can prevent access to teens in an effort to address the "epidemic of youth e-cigarette use".

And the agency has issued more than 135 No-Tobacco-Sale Order Complaints, which, according to the FDA, "can result in retailers being prohibited from selling tobacco products for specified periods of time". Above that message is a link to the company's youth-prevention efforts.

"I've been warning the e-cigarette industry for more than a year that they needed to do much more to stem the youth trends", he said. Other big players are owned by big tobacco conglomerates; Camel parent British American Tobacco makes Vuse e-cigarettes, and Marlboro parent Altria makes MarkTen e-cigarettes.

He also notes that while many adults who use e-cigarettes report that these products helped them stop smoking combustible tobacco, "the benefits of vaping devices for cessation has not yet been borne out at the population level in clinical or observational studies".

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