The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, concerned about the rising tide of nicotine use among teenagers, announced on Thursday that it will ban flavored tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, from being sold at convenience stores.
Tobacco, mint and menthol e-cigarette flavors will not be affected; but the sweet-flavored tobacco products will be limited to age-restricted stores or over the internet from sellers using age-verification checks.
As Yahoo News reports, menthol cigarettes are reputedly in the cross-hairs of the FDA, which is rumored to be considering banning them.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, "I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes," Gottlieb said.
Yahoo noted, “One of the most popular devices, made by San Francisco-based Juul Labs Inc, has become a phenomenon at U.S. high schools, where ‘Juuling’ has become synonymous with vaping.”
To buttress the idea that e-cigarettes should be limited, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that among high school students who reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days, 2018 found a 78% increase from 2017. They added that over three million high school students and 570,000 middle school students used e-cigarettes.
In September, the FDA announced, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced a series of critical and historic enforcement actions related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids. In the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history, the agency issued more than 1,300 warning letters and civil money penalty complaints (fines) to retailers who illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover blitz of brick-and-mortar and online stores this summer.”
Gottlieb stated in September:
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. This starts with the actions we’re taking today to crack down on retail sales of e-cigarettes to minors. We will also revisit our compliance policy that extended the dates for manufacturers of certain flavored e-cigarettes to submit applications for premarket authorization.
I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products. 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. We cannot allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine. …
As part of the FDA’s comprehensive plan, the agency also continues to explore clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive with an intense focus on youth. This could include measures on flavors/designs that appeal to youth, child-resistant packaging and product labeling to prevent accidental child exposure to liquid nicotine.
Juul, Logic, and Imperial Brands Plc, the maker of blu e-cigarettes, supported limiting access to e-cigarettes for younger people. Imperial revealed it has a plan to lock the devices if someone too young attempts to use them.