According to the Washington Post, the preliminary data is from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, and it shows a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in 2018 compared to 2017. Nearly 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in the prior 30 days.
The FDA is giving the five top-selling e-cigarette brands - Juul Labs Inc., Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic - 60 days to provide plans for how they will mitigate sales to minors.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced the plan Wednesday, saying the agency is giving the manufacturers of Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, Blu, and Logic-which make up more than 97% of the United States e-cigarette market-60 days to submit their plans, USA Today reports.
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. "These five brands now comprise over 97 percent of the US market for e-cigarettes", the FDA said. 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 see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.
While e-cigarettes were first marketed to help adults quit smoking combustible cigarettes, they have now become a gateway to nicotine for teenagers.
"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", he added. But health officials have warned nicotine in e-cigarettes is harmful to developing brains.
"We welcome FDA's action today and look forward to sharing our thoughts about how to prevent and reduce youth use, an issue we have focused on for decades", Altria spokesman George Parman said in a statement.More news: Nintendo Direct Officially Announced for Tomorrow
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Though Juul is by far the most popular e-cigarette device, two other companies, Vuse and Blu, have also received warnings. Companies whose products are pulled from shelves will have to prove a net positive public health benefit before sales can resume. The agency may also ban sales of some flavored e-cigarette products, which Gottlieb says are particularly appealing to underage users, and consider shortening a grace period that now gives e-cigarette companies until 2022 to apply for FDA approval.
Shares of Big Tobacco companies surged in trading Wednesday.
However, he seemed reluctant to give up on flavored nicotine, because he said it appeals to adult cigarette smokers.
"We're announcing the largest ever coordinated initiative against violative sales in the history of the FDA".
In addition, the FDA on Wednesday issued 12 warning letters to online retailers for selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies.
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. But Gottlieb said the easy availability of e-cigarettes is hitting teens.
On Wednesday, Gottlieb criticized e-cigarette companies' handling of the underage use problem, saying they approached it as "a public relations challenge rather than seriously considering their legal obligations".