The use of e-cigarettes has become an epidemic among teens and needs to be stopped, Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday.
The FDA said it was cracking down hard on sales of vaping products to teenagers and might consider taking e-cigarettes off the market if makers don’t do more to stop exponential sales to teenagers. The FDA may also limit the sale of certain flavored products, Gottlieb said.
“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,” Gottlieb said at a news conference.
“We’re announcing the largest-ever coordinated initiative against violative sales in the history of the FDA. This is the largest single enforcement action in agency history. It’s aimed at retail and online sales of e-cigarettes to minors.”
The FDA sent 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers in “a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz.”
“The vast majority of the violations were for the illegal sale of five e-cigarette products — Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL and Logic. These five brands currently comprise over 97 percent of the U.S. market for e-cigarettes,” the FDA said.
“In addition, today the FDA also issued 12 warning letters to other online retailers that are selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies.”
The FDA is trying to set up a framework for regulating e-cigarettes. For decades, the agency had no power to regulate cigarettes or other tobacco products, but Congress passed a law in 2009 giving the agency limited power to do so.
‘ALMOST UBIQUITOUS — AND DANGEROUS — TREND’
The FDA had taken a slow approach to allow manufacturers to figure out how to submit products for consideration. But Gottlieb says sales have soared, especially to teens, who can quickly become addicted to nicotine.
“I now have good reason to believe that it’s reached nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth,” Gottlieb said.
“I use the word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”
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