The Food and Drug Administration is looking to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes since the surge in teenage use of the products.
As of 2017, more than two million high school-age Americans used e-cigarettes, a trend that represents a historic uptake of nicotine products, the FDA said. Flavored e-cigarettes are said to be a tool that helps adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes, the main example of a plus the product can claim.
It cited estimates from Public Health England that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than normal cigarettes. They noted the survey did not ask specifically about Juul, a sleek, heavily-marketed e-cigarette brand that exploded onto the market and accounts for 70 percent of USA sales, according to analyst estimates.
She said Altria could be well positioned because it has a long history of dealing with youth access to its products and has "limited/mature flavor profiles relative to Juul". "We can not allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine".
On the other side of the public health ledger, there is little reason to think that restricting information about ENDS, making them less cool, or banning e-liquid flavors would reduce morbidity and mortality among today's adolescents, either now or in the future. "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".
Additionally, 12 online retailers were found to be selling vaping products that were "misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products", in violation of an earlier order from the FDA, and were also slapped with warning letters, according to the announcement. "We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people", Juul spokesperson Victoria Davis said in a statement provided to TIME. 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. The FDA is now developing a survey to determine what percentage of youth vapers are using Juul products, Gottlieb said. Gottlieb would be on much firmer ethical ground if he took the opposite position: In trying to stop teenagers from vaping, we won't deny adult smokers access to products that could save their lives. But spokeswoman Victoria Davis said "appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch".
Budding research on e-cigarettes also suggests that these flavors contain terpenes that may be more damaging to the lungs than other flavors are.
E-cigarettes, aside from the occasional exploding piece of tech, are often considered by experts, including the FDA, to be potentially safer alternatives to conventional puff tubes.
"JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request", the company said in a statement. "And we're seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market". As part of today's action, the agency sent an additional 12 warning letters to another 12 companies that continue to sell the products.
The FDA point out that, despite lacking tobacco and plenty of the nasties present in normal cigarettes, nicotine itself is hardly a benign substance.