Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Medical | By

FDA: Teens using e-cigarettes is an 'epidemic'

FDA: Teens using e-cigarettes is an 'epidemic'

"While teen cigarette use has hit a record low, she said, "'juuling' and vaping have become an epidemic in our schools, with products that seem targeted to get young people hooked on nicotine".

"The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we're seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end", FDA chief Scott Gottlieb said. "It be simply no longer tolerable".

The undercover investigation took place from June through the end of August, with the majority of violations involving the sale of products by the five manufacturers, which make up more than 97 percent of the US e-cigarette market. And they all have smaller vape or e-cigarette businesses, but they are still in investment mode.

The FDA's suggestions include rigorous age verification procedures for online direct sales (which Juul, the market leader, says it already has) and "discontinuing sales to retail establishments that have been subject to an FDA civil monetary penalty for sale of tobacco products to minors within the prior 12 months".

The FDA is in the process of rolling out a sweeping anti-smoking created to make it easier for smokers to quit by cutting the nicotine levels in regular cigarettes.

Eaton, a professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, said that "in some circumstances, such as their use by nonsmoking adolescents and young adults, their adverse effects clearly warrant concern".

"We're committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced a year ago", he said.

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 commissioner said flavors play a key role in peaking teen interest.


In Gottlieb's eyes, the flavored products that e-cigarette companies sell are part of the problem. "And they [teens] have adopted it", Gould said.

The FDA has also expanded "The Real Cost" public education campaign with messages focused on preventing youth use of e-cigarettes.

During the 60-day waiting period, the FDA plans to investigate the five companies' marketing and sales practices, with possible "boots on the ground inspections", Gottlieb said.

Although Gottlieb conceded that e-cigarettes may help adults stop smoking, it seems as though he won't be swayed by Juul's work to prevent kids from accessing the product. Regulators said it was the largest coordinated crackdown in the agency's history.

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 US Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes 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.

The FDA is trying to set up a framework for regulating e-cigarettes.

Juul e-cigs are available with 3 percent nicotine and 5 percent nicotine - about a much as pack of cigarettes, according to its website.

Gottlieb said e-cigarettes have the potential to help adult smokers, but also said the industry's lack of action on youth use could lead to fewer choices for adults who want to purchase e-cigarettes. As part of that plan, Gottlieb has suggested some smokers could be directed toward alternative products that deliver nicotine without the carcinogens of burning tobacco. 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.

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