The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared teen e-cigarette use an epidemic today, threatening to slap manufacturers including Juul with crushing fines if they don’t present plans to curb sales to minors.
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.
Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that he believes flavored vape liquids target teenagers specifically and his agency is considering banning them altogether.
The FDA has given five companies – Vuse, Blu, JuuL, MarkTen XL, and Logic- 60 days to come up with a plan to keep teenagers from using its devices and sent warning letters to 1,300 companies that it caught selling the device to minors.
The FDA is threatening Juul an other e-cigarette makers with crippling fines if they don’t come up with plans to curb sales to minors in an announcement calling teenage vaping an ‘epidemic’
While e-cigarettes were first marketed to help adults quit smoking combustible cigarettes, they have now become a gateway to nicotine for teenagers.
The Juul in particular resembles a USB drive, making it easy for teenagers to hide and even bring to school.
Since the surge in teen use of the products began, the FDA and Juul have battled over the products consistently.
Now, Gottlieb is coordinating the largest scale initiative to enforce regulations against selling e-cigarettes to-date.
‘We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion,’ he said in today’s announcement.
Gottlieb reiterated his belief that certain e-cigarette liquid flavors – including sweet ones such as mango and cucumber, popular among teenage Juul users – are particularly enticing and even marketed directly to children.
Budding research on e-cigarettes also suggests that these flavors contain terpenes that may be more damaging to the lungs than other flavors are.
Other studies have indicated that while e-cigarettes may have milder effects on the lungs, they are just as bad – if not worse – for the cardiovascular system, raising risks of heart disease and high blood pressure.
What’s more, e-cigarette liquids like Juul pods contain high concentrations of nicotine.
The company recently released new pods that are three percent nicotine, as opposed to the original, potent five percent ones, but in many places these have yet to hit shelves.
These levels of nicotine are highly addictive, particularly to the developing brains of children and teenagers.
Gottlieb noted that the FDA continues to support the availability of products to help adult smokers quit, but ‘that work can’t come at the expense of kids,’ he said.
Studies published in the last couple of years have suggested that e-cigarettes may in fact act like a gateway to nicotine and other drugs for adolescents, and Gottlieb and the FDA intend to shut those gates, by force, if necessary.
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.
‘We won’t allow the current trends in youth access and use to continue, even if it means putting limits in place that reduce adult uptake of these products,’ Gottlieb said.