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13 September 2018, 07:59 | Silvia Roy
Credit Gabby Jones Bloomberg
E-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product by kids, with more than 2 million middle and high school kids using the product in 2017, the federal government says.
"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. The agency may also ban sales of some flavored e-cigarette products, which Gottlieb says are particularly appealing to underage users, and consider shortening a grace period that now gives e-cigarette companies until 2022 to apply for FDA approval. So we don't want to - we don't want to extinguish this opportunity entirely, because we do see some potential benefit from having these products on the market as a way for adult smokers to get access to nicotine, without all the harmful effects of combusting tobacco.
The FDA is trying to set up a framework for regulating e-cigarettes.
Fontem Ventures, owner of blu, also told Business Insider that it will fully "advocate for both legislation prohibiting sales of vaping products to minors and the ongoing FDA enforcement action against retailers selling e-vapor and other tobacco products to minors".
Gottlieb said that e-cigarette manufacturers have been given ample time to change their ways.
"We need to go further", said Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist who has worked for years to reduce tobacco use.
"The FDA will not tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a trade-off for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products", he said. "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.
"Anybody who comes in and we think he is like 18 or 19, we're going to ask him to show us the ID". The FDA's delay on that requirement has allowed the industry to flourish with little oversight.
But the other action we would take immediately is look at removing these flavored products in the market. Instead, the agency gave extensions to new and existing vaping products, giving them until August 2022 to submit information to support their products' safety and efficacy as switching devices.
San Francisco-based Juul said it is working to prevent underage use of its products but added that flavors can help adult smokers quit. "Hindsight, and the data now available to us, reveal these trends".
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In addition, the FDA on Wednesday issued 12 warning letters to online retailers for selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies.
In April the agency launched a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, created to address some of the known public health risks, such as flavors, that contribute to adolescent use of e-cigarettes.
Investors in Juul's competitors appeared to welcome the FDA announcement.
The agency is now demanding plans to reign in youth-targeted marketing campaigns and control illegal sales of their products to minors from Juul and four other e-cigarette makers within 60 days.
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