USA mulls ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid youth 'epidemic'

FDA puts e-cig makers on notice

The companies sell Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL, and Logic e-cigarette brands, which account for 97 percent of US e-cigarette sales, according to FDA.

"I now have good reason to believe that it's reached nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth", Gottlieb said.

On Wednesday, the FDA magnified its message, sending five major e-cigarette manufacturers and more than 1,100 businesses warning letters - and, in some cases, fines for selling to minors.

In April, JUUL sent thousands of pages of records to be reviewed by the FDA - but apparently, it didn't bode well for the nicotine king.

"This use by children and teens is especially concerning to the FDA because the developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction", a statement from the FDA says.

The FDA also requested Juul and four other manufacturers provide plans to mitigate youth sales within 60 days or face potential criminal or civil action. Officials said 131 of the retailers will have to pay penalties.

The FDA has been widely criticized by anti-smoking groups for extending the product review application period for e-cigarettes introduced to the market before August of 2016 to the summer of 2022.

"We welcome FDA's action today and look forward to sharing our thoughts about how to prevent and reduce youth use, an issue we have focussed on for decades", Altria spokesman George Parman said in a statement. Despite the constant warnings that increased experimentation with e-cigarettes would lead to more smoking, consumption of conventional cigarettes by teenagers stubbornly continues to decline, reaching a record low a year ago in the Monitoring the Future Study, which began in 1975.

Last year, the FDA announced that it would delay regulations that could have halted the sales of many e-cigarettes. However, an epidemic requires urgent and serious action, and the FDA must not cede its authority to the industry. He said a main goal in reducing use of e-cigarettes by minors is to fight sales of them to minors.

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"We're now actively evaluating how we'd implement such a policy", Gottlieb said.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now considers the increasingly prolific use of e-cigarettes amongst younger people as an "epidemic".

"I've been warning the e-cigarette industry for more than a year that they needed to do much more to stem these youth trends", he said.

In addition, the FDA on Wednesday issued 12 warning letters to online retailers for selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies.

The other companies also said they would work with the FDA on youth prevention efforts. He also said the agency is "considering the immediate removal ... from the market" of e-cigarette flavorings that cater to underage users.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said that the FDA will do anything in its power to keep potentially addictive substances out of the hands of minors. 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.

"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".

In a note to clients on Wednesday, Herzog said Juul is most at risk. And it highlighted e-cigarettes' role as a way for adult smokers to transition off cigarettes. The companies insist that the flavors are critical to helping nicotine-addicted adult smokers switch from conventional cigarettes.

Dr Gottlieb said the agency plans to launch a national campaign to raise awareness of the risks to teens, as it sees signs that the number of users is increasing.

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