United States government considers ban on flavored e-cigarettes over youth 'epidemic'

A Juul vaping system with accessory pods in varying flavors on May 02 2018 in Washington DC

A Juul vaping system with accessory pods in varying flavors on May 02 2018 in Washington DC

"There is just a lot we don't know".

The warning from the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday marks a stark shift in the agency's tone on e-cigarettes, including the popular Juul brand and others, which have become the most used tobacco product among teenagers.

If the ban were to happen, Altria Group is mostly likely to benefit, Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog wrote in the note today. The four others are owned by cigarette companies.

Such a step would be a major blow to the e-cigarette companies - Juul, Vuse, Blu, Logic and MarkTen - which often feature cream and fruit flavorings in their products.

The owners of Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Each company must submit to FDA within 60 days plans on how they will address the widespread youth access and use of their products.

"I've been warning the e-cigarette industry for more than a year that they needed to do much more to stem the youth trends", he said.

On the other side of the public health ledger, there is little reason to think that restricting information about ENDS, making them less cool, or banning e-liquid flavors would reduce morbidity and mortality among today's adolescents, either now or in the future. It has issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to the likes of 7-Eleven outlets, Walgreens, Shell gas stations, and Circle K convenience stores. In May, they were warned, but they are still advertising and selling the violative products. Several of the retailers also were cited for illegally selling the products to minors.

The FDA banned e-cigarette sales to minors in 2016, meaning they can not be sold to people under 18.

Also, the agency is probing manufacturer's online shops for "straw" purchases in which buyers resell products to minors.

Gottlieb noted that the FDA continues to support the availability of products to help adult smokers quit, but 'that work can't come at the expense of kids, ' he said. "We can not allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine", they said. The FDA declined to release the figures publicly.

In the US, about 12 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes at least once a month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection estimated in 2017. Ingredients also include glycerol, propylene glycol, natural oils, extracts and flavor and benzoic acid.

The FDA moves come as it seeks to balance its approach on e-cigarettes, which can be used to wean lifelong smokers onto less harmful nicotine products, but also risk drawing a new generation to nicotine addiction.

E-cigarettes are vapor-emitting devices that have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry in the US despite little research on their long-term effects, including whether they are helpful in helping smokers quit.

She said Altria could be well positioned because it has a long history of dealing with youth access to its products and has "limited/mature flavor profiles relative to Juul". "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".

"There is no question that a lot of the youth use is being driven by Juul", Gottlieb said. Youth tobacco prevention is a priority for our companies.

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