Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Teens and vaping, a dangerous combination

US government considers ban on flavored e-cigarettes over youth 'epidemic' The FDA Is Considering Pulling Some Flavored E-Cigarettes From the Market to Fight 'Epidemic' of Youth Vaping
Gustavo Carr | 14 September, 2018, 15:38

"We're seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market", Gottlieb said in a speech at FDA headquarters.

"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.

Concerned with an "epidemic" surge in teen use of e-cigarettes, the head of the US Food and Drug Administration announced today a "historic action" against more than 1,300 retailers and five major manufacturers for their roles in perpetuating youth access to the devices in the US. "Minors should not use any tobacco or nicotine products, and we fully support and 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", the company said in a statement. Although these products were the subject of the agency's action in May, they are no longer being sold with the offending label no advertised by the companies that received the letters in May.

The FDA is calling the use of e-cigarettes by young people an epidemic.

Why is the use of e-cigarettes by young people so concerning?

But FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency did not predict an "epidemic of addiction" among young people, mainly driven by flavoured products.

Shares of British American Tobacco, which owns the Vuse brand, closed up almost 6%, while shares of cigarette-maker Imperial Brands PLC, which owns Blu, rose more than 3%. The academy said Gottlieb has the authority to intervene in the market to protect minors, and any further delay runs the risk that "a generation of young people will become addicted to these risky products". The companies insist that the flavors are critical to helping nicotine-addicted adult smokers switch from conventional cigarettes.

The agency said it continues to check retail stores that sell tobacco, to ensure they are in compliance with federal laws.

However, there is little consensus about how to regulate the industry.

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"Industry must step up to this challenge", Gottlieb says.

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. Earlier this year, as criticism of the company mounted, it committed $30 million over the next three years for independent research, youth and parent education and community engagement.

The agency's latest action follows a sting operation in the spring that targeted businesses selling JUUL brand e-cigarette products to minors, which resulted in more than 60 warning letters and fines.

E-cigarettes, such as Juul, have become a popular alternative to smoking.

Of the 3.6 million middle- and high-school students who said in 2017 they are current tobacco-product users, 2.1 million used e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result of its findings, the agency issued letters to the manufacturers of the five brands asking each company to submit within 60 days plans describing how they will address youth access and use of their products.

Gottlieb also signaled that his agency is prepared to take more sweeping steps.

"What we have learned from our experience with cigarettes and other products, is it is important to restrict sales to kids, but if you make products appealing to kids, market them in ways to attract kids, you can be certain kids will get them", Myers told AFP.

This use by children and teens is a concern to the FDA because the developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction.