Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Feds take action against retailers in e-cigarette 'epidemic'

Feds take action against retailers in e-cigarette 'epidemic'

FDADeclaring that "youth use of e-cigarettes is reaching epidemic proportions", the Food and Drug Administration today threatened to remove vaping products from the market unless their manufacturers come up with satisfactory plans to prevent underage consumption. Upon review, the FDA could require the firms to change their sales and marketing practices, stop distributing to retailers that sell to youth or halt the sale of some or all of their flavored e-cigarette products altogether until the companies clear the applications process.

"I have grown increasingly concerned around what we see as rising youth use in these products, and I'm disappointed in the actions the companies have taken to try to address this", Gottlieb said at a press briefing. "These products are new and there are other chemicals in the electronic products you are inhaling and putting in your lungs and with these products there are concerns that it could damage your DNA, may lead to respiratory cancers after using these products for years and years", Delaney said. Altria Group Inc. and British American Tobacco Plc had the biggest one-day percentage gain in about a decade.

"The FDA should immediately move to regulate flavored e-cigarettes, instead of waiting until 2022, as it is now planning to do", Bloomberg said in a statement.

"This could result in a bullet through the head of Juul, the driver of youth initiation", said Nico von Stackelberg, an analyst with Liberum in London.

Gottlieb cited preliminary data that has not yet been published, but which he said shows "youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply". He declined to disclose the evidence.

Stressing that the FDA need to properly evaluate the public health impacts such products have before they can approve them, Gottlieb noted that the speed in which e-cigarettes have appeared and spread hasn't given them enough time to do just that.

"There is no question that a lot of the youth use is being driven by Juul", Gottlieb said.

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"This public campaign will bring these public health messages to online sites that we know teenagers access, and even to high school bathrooms", Gottlieb said.

E-cigarette makers argue the devices help adult smokers give up cigarettes - potentially saving them from related illnesses - by giving a nicotine fix without the smoke and smell of combustible cigarettes. JUUL pods, which can be bought in fruit or candy flavors, contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

The agency said it allowed the extra time to strike an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging the development of innovative tobacco products that may help older smokers quit. "In the coming weeks, we'll take additional action under our Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to immediately address the youth access to, and the appeal of, these products".

Officials said the move against more than 1,300 retailers was the largest coordinated enforcement action in the agency's history.

However, Gottlieb claims e-cigarette brands haven't done enough to stop kids from using the products. He said in June tobacco companies "better step up and step up soon" but he didn't divulge what consequences the industry could face - until now.

"The FDA should immediately move to regulate flavored e-cigarettes, instead of waiting until 2022, as it is now planning to do", Bloomberg said in a statement.

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