- The FDA is taking steps to enforce and address the e-cigarette epidemic among minors.
- The agency is giving the makers of some of the most prevalent vaping devices 60 days to show they are able to keep their products away from teens. If they can't, the flavored products could be pulled from store shelves.
- In 2017, more than 2 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. The FDA is trying to initiate a public education campaign in order to learn more about e-cig products and their access and appeal to teens.
The agency is giving makers of some of the most prevalent vaping devices 60 days to submit plans showing they can keep their products away from teens. If the manufacturers fail to submit plans that could halt the trend of e-cigarette use among kids, their flavored products could be pulled from store shelves.
As part of a nationwide enforcement effort this summer, the FDA issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who were found to have illegally sold products to teens.
The majority of these violations were doled out for the sale of five e-cigarette products to those under 18 -- Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL, and Logic. The agency also issued 12 warning letters to online retailers that are selling or advertising flavored vapor inserts for e-cigarettes in a way that might be misleading to kids, such as offering candy and cookie flavors. They also prohibited certain retailers who had violations from selling tobacco products for specific periods of time.
The FDA's moves come as the booming e-cig company Juul has been flagged by doctors, researchers, and non-profits for health risks and deceptive marketing to attract minors. Juul takes up nearly 71 percent of the entire e-cig market with its USB-size device that comes with single inserts containing the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. The company -- valued at $15 billion -- is growing more popular among teens and has even eyed an international expansion of its business.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in the press release that the "youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion." In 2017, more than 2 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes.
The FDA stated that although e-cigarettes can potentially help adult smokers move away from traditional cigarettes, that effort can't come at the expense of a whole new generation becoming addicted to nicotine. It is working with Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to address the access and appeal of these products, and to launch a public education campaign.
"JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request," a company spokesperson told Business Insider in an email statement. "Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes. Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch. By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission."