Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Medical | By

Too many teens are using Juuls, according to the FDA

Too many teens are using Juuls, according to the FDA

The FDA banned e-cigarette sales to minors in 2016, meaning they can not be sold to people under 18. 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.

Shortly after the launch, the FDA cracked down on e-liquids marketed to resemble kid-friendly foods like juice boxes, candy and cookies. More than 2 million middle-school and high-school students used e-cigarettes in 2017.

To that end, the FDA on Wednesday said it has asked Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL and Logic to submit plans within 60 days to describe how they will address widespread youth access and use of their products. The premise of such threats is that the interests of adults who might want to switch from smoking to a far less hazardous form of nicotine consumption should be sacrificed for the sake of curtailing e-cigarette use by minors, which is already illegal.

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.

Investors in Juul's competitors appeared to welcome the FDA announcement.

Shares of Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes in the USA, rose as much as 5.3 percent to $62.60 in NY, the biggest intraday gain in eight years. Shares of cigarette and e-cigarette maker Altria Group also rose more than 6 percent, while Philip Morris International shares were up 4 percent.

Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog, in a research note, said Juul appears "most at risk" from the crackdown because of its "strong appeal to youth and the FDA's comments on flavors". "Juul is a product for adult smokers".

What's more, e-cigarette liquids like Juul pods contain high concentrations of nicotine.


MarkTen's flavors, for example, include "menthol", "classic", and "summer blend", while Juul's flavors have included "fruit medley" and "creme brulee", recently shortened to "fruit" and "creme".

The FDA set a 60-day deadline for five major tobacco manufacturers to provide a plan for mitigating youth sales, or the agency will pull them out of the market.

Gottlieb warned action may require companies to change their sales and marketing practices; stop distributing products to retailers who sell to kids; and remove "some or all of their flavored e-cig products from the market". "The FDA won't tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products".

One manufacturer in the FDA's crosshairs, Juul Labs, said in a statement, "JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request". If the FDA sees continued underage use as an argument for banning e-cigarettes, the industry is doomed, even though it offers what the agency recognizes as "an alternative for adult smokers who still seek access to satisfying levels of nicotine, but without all of the harmful effects that come from combustion".

But the FDA said it is also investigating whether e-cigarette manufacturers have introduced new products after August 8, 2016, without premarket authorization.

Fontem Ventures, makers of blu, issued a similar statement.

British American's R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, said it will comply with the FDA request, adding that "youth tobacco prevention is a priority for our companies". "We're going to have to take action".

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