US plans crackdown on e-cigarette firms citing 'epidemic' teen use

US government considers ban on flavored e-cigarettes over youth 'epidemic'

US government considers ban on flavored e-cigarettes over youth 'epidemic'

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes from Juul Labs and other companies as it grapples with an "epidemic" of youth e-cigarette use that threatens to create a new generation of nicotine addicts, the agency's head said on Wednesday.

Gottlieb noted that the FDA continues to support the availability of products to help adult smokers quit, but 'that work can't come at the expense of kids, ' he said.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said that e-cigarettes, while still harmful, may be effective for adults who want to give up cigarette smoking, which kills nearly half a million Americans each year.

The FDA is giving the five top-selling e-cigarette brands - Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic - 60 days to provide plans for how they will mitigate sales to minors. They included chains such as 7-Eleven, Casey's General Store, Circle K, Cumberland Farms, Kwik Trip, Sheetz, Speedway, Tom Thumb and Wawa, as well as gas station banners like BP, Chevron, Citgo, Conoco, Exxon, Marathon, Mobil, Murphy USA, Phillips, RaceTrac, Shell, Sunoco, Texaco and Valero. But it also sent letters to five leading manufacturers of "electronic nicotine delivery systems" (ENDS), insisting that they do more to keep their products away from teenagers.

"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", Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb announced a number of steps the agency planned to take as part of a broader crackdown on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids.

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. The "epidemic" perceived by the FDA is mainly an epidemic of e-cigarette experimentation, and even that trend seems to have reversed, judging from the latest NYTS results.

To gain clearance to return to the market, the companies would have to prove that the benefits to adults who use e-cigarettes in order to stop smoking traditional cigarettes outweigh the risks associated with youth vaping. The FDA's delay on that requirement has allowed the industry to flourish with little oversight.

"I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products", Gottlieb said. British American, which produces Camel cigarettes, climbed as much as 6.4 percent in London, the biggest intraday increase in 10 years. It was "the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA's history", according to the agency.

San Francisco-based Juul said it is working to prevent underage use of its products but added that flavors can help adult smokers quit. He listed three reasons the company became so successful: It figured out how to deliver high levels of nicotine in a way that wasn't harsh; it packaged the product in a streamlined, clever way; and it developed a social media and advertising campaign that made a Juul e-cigarette "cool and hip".

"The legal standard for FDA premarket review of a new tobacco product includes consideration of whether the product would be appropriate for the protection of the public health".

"I'm here to tell them today that this prior approach is over", he said.

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