Flavored vapes draw FDA ire, with some exceptions

Today, the Food and Drug Administration took another step towards limiting the sale of sweet-flavored e-cigarettes in places where kids can buy them. But public health experts wonder if the move will be enough to make a dent in the massive increase of youth vaping.

After announcing plans in November to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes that come in kid-friendly flavors, the FDA today issued what’s called a “draft guidance” that starts to spell out how the agency intends to do so. For one thing, if the FDA catches companies marketing sweet-flavored e-cigarette products to kids or selling them in places minors can shop, the FDA may force these companies to pull the products from the market. FDA’s soon-to-be-ex-commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement today: “We’re putting all manufacturers and retailers on notice.”

That means changing the way the FDA has been treating e-cigarette products that were introduced before August, 2016. In a backwards approval process, these essentially unregulated products are allowed to be sold while e-cigarette companies apply for FDA authorization to sell them. That application deadline has bounced around from 2018 to 2022. Today, the FDA proposed moving up the deadline to 2021 for flavored vapes, not including mint, menthol or tobacco flavors.

Excluding mint and menthol from this new push against flavored vapes worries public health experts like Kathleen Hoke, a law professor at the University of Maryland. “Those are flavors that are also quite popular among people,” she says. “They’re trying to draw a line, I see that, but I don’t think the line is in the best place for public health.”

In the meantime, the FDA plans to crack down especially on vapes marketed to kids. The new guidance emphasizes the restrictions the FDA already proposed in November, including limiting the sale of sweet-flavored vapes in places kids can freely access or in stores that have been caught selling to minors. Those restrictions include plans to take action against online stores that don’t independently check ages and IDs, and ones that fail to limit the number of products you can buy at any one time.

Read more at https://www.theverge.com

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