US officials call teen vaping an ‘epidemic,’ weigh flavor ban

The Food and Drug Administration is threatening to pull flavored electronic cigarettes off the market if the tobacco industry doesn’t do more to combat growing use of the products by children and teens

The Food and Drug Administration is threatening to pull flavored electronic cigarettes off the market if the tobacco industry doesn’t do more to combat growing use of the products by children and teens

US health officials say teenage use of e-cigarettes has reached "epidemic" levels and are calling on the industry to address the problem or risk having their flavored products pulled off the market. In a speech in Washington, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced a number of steps the government planned to take as part of a broader crackdown on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children.

Youth vaping is an "epidemic", as far as the FDA is concerned, and if manufacturers don't submit "robust" plans to prevent kids from getting their hands on flavored e-cigarettes, the agency will take action-possibly going so far as to order the flavored products off the shelves. The agency issued 12 warning letters to companies that it says have deceptive marketing labels on e-liquids.

'We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, ' he said in today's announcement.

While e-cigarettes were first marketed to help adults quit smoking combustible cigarettes, they have now become a gateway to nicotine for teenagers. "We can not allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine".

Traders said proposed FDA action was less harsh than feared.

However, Gottlieb claims e-cigarette brands haven't done enough to stop kids from using the products. The companies sell Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL, and Logic e-cigarette brands, which account for 97 percent of US e-cigarette sales, according to FDA.

'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.

Of the 3.6 million middle and high school students who said in 2017 they were tobacco product users, 2.1 million used e-cigarettes, Bloomberg reports, citing CDC stats.

"This could result in a bullet through the head of Juul, the driver of youth initiation", said Nico von Stackelberg, an analyst with Liberum in London, told the news agency. But it added that "appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch", spokeswoman Victoria Davis said. The FDA claims that more than 2 million middle schoolers and high school students were regularly vaping previous year, with underage use reaching "an epidemic proportion".

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