FDA declares vaping 'epidemic' among teens

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Most of the violations found in the undercover blitz, conducted from June through August, were for the illicit sale of Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL and Logic e-cigarette products, according to the FDA.

"We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people", JUUL said Wednesday.

As of September 1, the FDA said it has conducted 978,290 retail inspections, issued 77,180 warning letters to retailers for violating the law, and initiated 18,560 civil money penalty cases in its checks of retail establishments selling tobacco products.

Juul and four other producers, which Gottlieb said alter 97% of the market, are in actuality required to produce plans to mitigate formative years gross sales within 60 days or face capacity criminal or civil action.

"While we remain committed to advancing policies that promote the potential of e-cigarettes to help adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes, that work can't come at the expense of kids", said Gottlieb.

While British American Tobacco and Altria own two of the brands targeted in Wednesday's announcement, the companies are asking the FDA to review new "heat-not-burn" products.

Dr. Gottlieb said his agency's aggressive posture may create obstacles for adults who use e-cigarettes as substitutes for traditional smokes, but he added that he is willing to pay that price to stop children from getting hooked on tobacco.

It will also "re-visit" the policy it announced previous year, which gave e-cigarette companies more time to apply for regulatory approval.

If the FDA isn't happy with the responses, it will reconsider whether it will continue to allow those e-cigarette products on the market before the companies file applications with the FDA. Flavored e-cigarettes are said to be a tool that helps adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes, the main example of a plus the product can claim.

Gottlieb said the agency could also target "cartridge-based products" such as the USB-sized Juul, which is favored by teens and sold in convenience stores.

"This is potentially the most important step FDA has taken to curtail youth use of e-cigarettes", said the group's president, Matthew Myers.

The FDA cited an "epidemic" rise in teen vaping over the past year, especially in the most popular brand, Juul, which entices young people with candylike flavors while delivering a strong dose of nicotine. "Juuling", along with "vaping", has become a common term for e-cigarette use by teenagers on social media and at United States high schools. I'll be clear. The FDA won't tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products. If the companies do not respond to the agency's satisfaction, the FDA said, it will consider removing their products from stores. As part of today's action, the agency sent an additional 12 warning letters to another 12 companies that continue to sell the products. British American Tobacco shares increased almost 6 percent to their best day since December, 2008.

Beyond that, vaping research and development is actually costing tobacco companies as they attempt to gain market share in the burgeoning industry, Lavery said. If they can't, the flavored products could be pulled from store shelves.

"There has been an exponential growth in the sales of e-cigarettes, there been no change in the sales of tobacco and no substantive decline in the rate of tobacco smoking since the advent of e-cigarettes", said Phillips.

The commissioner said flavors play a key role in peaking teen interest.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that he believes flavored vape liquids target teenagers specifically and his agency is considering banning them altogether.

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