E-cigarette sales to kids targeted

Jermaine Castillo
September 16, 2018

FDA also added saying that if the agencies don't think their plans go far enough, it could order their flavored products off the market as these five brands make up more than 97 percent of the USA market for e-cigarettes.

The federal agency issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover blitz of brick-and-mortar and online stores from June through August. The agency is giving e-cigarette companies 60 days to come up with a plan for reducing use of their products among minors.

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

"Nicotine can be harmful to the still-developing brain of an adolescent", said Mitchell Zeller, the Director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. If Juul Labs and four other major manufacturers fail to halt sales to minors, the agency said, it could remove their flavored products from the market.

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According to data published Wednesday, the FDA sent warning letters to 28 Arkansas retailers.

While British American Tobacco and Altria own two of the brands targeted in Wednesday's announcement, the companies are asking the FDA to review new "heat-not-burn" products. 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 previous year in the Monitoring the Future Study, which began in 1975.

Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, lamented the delay, as well as the years it took for the FDA to implement regulations following the 2009 law that provided it with new powers.

The company, which sells pods with flavours such as mango, mint and creme, also defended such products, which it said help adult customers trying to quit traditional smoking. "I think education is the answer to fixing the problem, just like how we have educated young people about alcohol and other tobacco products over the years", Delaney said. That's why combating youth use of nicotine-containing products is a core priority and the guiding principle behind the FDA's Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan.

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The use of e-cigarettes has become an epidemic among teens and needs to be stopped, Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday.

According to the Washington Post, the preliminary data is from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, and it shows a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in 2018 compared to 2017. "We can not allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine", he said. Although the FDA had acted in May to limit the sale of such products, they were still being offered, with the offending labeling and advertising, by the 12 online retailers, several of whom were also cited for sales to minors. He also said the agency is "considering the immediate removal ... from the market" of e-cigarette flavorings that cater to underage users.

In response to the news from the FDA shares in tobacco companies rose sharply, with some gaining as much as eight percent. "Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes". But it added that "appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch", spokeswoman Victoria Davis said.

"There has been an exponential growth in the sales of e-cigarettes, there been no change in the sales of tobacco and no substantive decline in the rate of tobacco smoking since the advent of e-cigarettes", said Phillips.

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Gottlieb echoed those concerns, saying he's anxious about the effects of nicotine in e-cigarettes on the developing brain, and that a proportion of teenagers who use the devices will end up on regular cigarettes.

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