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

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is giving vaping companies 60 days to figure out how to reverse what it's calling an epidemic of youth usage, or risk having some of their products potentially pulled from the market.

A nationwide sting operation from June through August resulted in more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who sold Juul products and other e-cigarettes to kids. "It's an unfortunate tradeoff". Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch. The FDA is now developing a survey to determine what percentage of youth vapers are using Juul products, Gottlieb said.

E-cigarettes are vapor-emitting devices that have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry in the US despite little research on their long-term effects, including whether they are helpful in helping smokers quit. The upshot could be less switching and therefore more smoking-related deaths. "This could mean requiring these brands to remove some or all of their flavored products that may be contributing to the rise in youth use from the market until they receive premarket authorization and otherwise meet all of their obligations under the law".

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A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found in January that while e-cigarettes are far less harmful than conventional cigarettes, which produce a raft of toxic substances when burned, they still pose health risks.

"Given the market's overarching concerns about Juul's impact on cigarettes, especially Marlboro, we think a potential "ban" on Juul would be positive for MO", Herzog wrote. Such grim statistics prompted the FDA to recently propose that the level of nicotine, the addictive substance that gets people hooked, permitted in products should be brought down, either suddenly or gradually over time, to eventually wean people off smoking.

In the US, about 12 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes at least once a month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection estimated in 2017.

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The ability of manufacturers to prevent underage consumption is, in any case, pretty limited. As long as some retailers are careless, some adults are willing to buy e-cigarettes on behalf of minors, and some teenagers manage to swipe them from parents or older siblings, there will be leakage from the adult market. "If they fail to do so, or if the plans do not appropriately address this issue, the FDA will consider whether it would be appropriate to revisit the current policy that results in these products remaining on the market without a marketing order from the agency". The products being targeted are: Juul, MarkTen by the Altria Group, the maker of Malboro cigarettes in the US, Blu by Fontem Ventures, Vuse, by British American Tobacco, the company that makes Camel cigarettes, and a device called Logic. If underage consumption does not justify a ban on tobacco cigarettes (and I don't think it does), it can not possibly justify a ban on competing products that are much safer.

Dr Gottlieb acknowledged that the toughened approach would force "hard trade-offs" when it comes to promoting e-cigarettes to adults.

"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", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.

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He said the vaping industry had not taken prior warnings seriously.

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