Millennials and hipsters beware: big government wants to come for your e-cigarettes if teenagers do not stop using them.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration threatened to remove from the market some of the popular vaping products of five top-selling national brands unless they submit plans to prevent minors from using their products.
“The agency is asking each company to submit to FDA within 60 days plans describing how they will address the widespread youth access and use of their products,” the FDA said in a statement. “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 without a marketing order from the agency. This could mean requiring these brands to remove some or all of their flavored products that may be contributing to the rise in youth use from the market until they receive premarket authorization and otherwise meet all of their obligations under the law.”
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says he recognizes the benefits of e-cigarettes for adults trying to quit smoking combustible cigarettes, but “that work can’t come at the expense of kids.”
“We cannot allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine,” he said. Gottlieb said he believes youth are attracted to the e-cigarettes because of “certain flavors.”
Reason explains that Gottlieb is considering “reneging on the FDA’s four-year extension of the deadline for seeking regulatory approval to continue selling e-cigarettes, which would wreak havoc with a market that he concedes has great potential for reducing smoking-related disease and death.”
“The FDA now believes that youth use of e-cigarettes is reaching epidemic proportions,” the statement reads. “This belief is based on not just the results of the agency’s enforcement actions, but also recent sales trends, news coverage, increased concerns among kids, parents and educators, as well as preliminary data that will be finalized and released in the coming months.”
The FDA claims that “more than 2 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2017,” but Reason disputes this number, noting that it includes respondents who vaped even once during the previous month.
The statement also states that the agency issued 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who were caught illegally selling products to minors in “an undercover blitz of brick-and-mortar and online stores this summer.”
Smoking of conventional cigarettes last year hit a record low of 9.7% in comparison to 36.5% in 1997, according to the Monitoring the Future Study.