USA health officials are sounding the alarm about teenage use of e-cigarettes, calling the problem an "epidemic" and ordering manufacturers to reverse the trend or risk having their flavored vaping products pulled from the market.
The Food and Drug Administration is anxious about the latest teenage craze. "If they fail to do so, or if the plans do not appropriately address this issue, the FDA will consider whether it would be appropriate to revisit the current policy that results in these products remaining on the market". "This starts with the actions we're taking today to crack down on retail sales of e-cigarettes to minors", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
"Well, I'm here to tell them that this prior approach is over".
"Far too many teens are being introduced at an early age to e-cigarettes", said Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in the release.
"Anybody who comes in and we think he is like 18 or 19, we're going to ask him to show us the ID".
Dr Gottlieb said the agency plans to launch a national campaign to raise awareness of the risks to teens, as it sees signs that the number of users is increasing.
Health advocates have anxious about the popularity of vaping products among kids and the potential impact on smoking rates in the future. The findings of this investigation have yet to be made public. "Hindsight, and the data now available to us, reveal these trends". Some experts were cautious about the results, however. In just three years, it has captured about 70 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to Bloomberg.
"I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products", Gottlieb said.
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These levels of nicotine are highly addictive, particularly to the developing brains of children and teenagers. Short of that, he suggests the FDA might force companies to stop offering e-liquid flavors that appeal to minors, which are an important factor in quit attempts by adult smokers.
In an effort to reverse that trend, the FDA on Wednesday sent letters to manufacturers of five e-cigarette brands often used by kids - Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic - requesting that they draw up plans for limiting youth access to their products within 60 days. Companies whose products are pulled from shelves will have to prove a net positive public health benefit before sales can resume.
However, there is little consensus about how to regulate the industry. "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". Youth tobacco prevention is a priority for our companies.
Fontem Ventures, makers of blu, issued a similar statement.
San Francisco-based Juul said it is working to prevent underage use of its products but added that flavors can help adult smokers quit.
Gottlieb cited preliminary data that has not yet been published, but which he said shows "youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply". Regulators said it was the largest coordinated crackdown in the agency's history.
The FDA is in the process of rolling out a sweeping anti-smoking initiative created to make it easier for smokers to quit by cutting the nicotine levels in regular cigarettes.
"If young adults go online and buy 100 units of a product to sell to teens, that activity ought to be easy for a product manufacturer to identify", said Gottlieb. BPS prohibits smoking on school property, including the use of electronic devices. "And they [teens] have adopted it", Gould said.