U.S. calls teen e-cig use an 'epidemic'

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes from Juul Labs and other companies as it grapples with an "epidemic" of youth e-cigarette use that threatens to create a new generation of nicotine addicts, the agency's head said on Wednesday.

In 2017, Minnesota high-school tobacco use spiked to 26 percent with e-cigarette use by those in that age range increasing by 50 percent in the last three years, the health department said in a Wednesday, Sept. 12, news release.

In a statement, Juul Labs said "appropriate flavors" play a role in adults changing their smoking habits, but said it would work with 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". The "epidemic" perceived by the FDA is mainly an epidemic of e-cigarette experimentation, and even that trend seems to have reversed, judging from the latest NYTS results.

"The vast majority of the violations were for the illegal sale of five e-cigarette products - Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL, and Logic". So we don't want to - we don't want to extinguish this opportunity entirely, because we do see some potential benefit from having these products on the market as a way for adult smokers to get access to nicotine, without all the harmful effects of combusting tobacco. Those products could include e-cigarettes, though the FDA has not given any company permission to advertise its device as a quit-smoking aid. "It's aimed at retail and online sales of e-cigarettes to minors".

The Vapor Technology Association, which says it represents over 600 vaping manufacturers and distributors, also supports limiting teen access, but added that the new actions by the FDA ventured "into risky territory" by not being in the best interest of public health.

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"I certainly am in possession of evidence that warrants that", Gottlieb said, without disclosing the evidence. "We're going to have to take action". The FDA's delay on that requirement has allowed the industry to flourish with little oversight.

In Boston Public Schools, high school administrators have reported more instances of students in possession of vaping devices at school. "Hindsight, and the data that's now available to us, fully reveal these trends". "Juul is a product for adult smokers".

"In my view, they treated these issues like a public relations challenge rather than seriously considering their legal obligations, the public health mandate and the existential threat to these products, and as they did, these risks have mounted", Gottlieb said.

The FDA also targeted Juul retailers this spring, issuing 56 warning letters and six civil monetary penalties.

To report a retailer selling tobacco products to underage customers, submit an online form on the FDA's website. Today's effort notches up that action, becoming, said Gottlieb, the "largest ever coordinated initiative against violative sales in the history of the FDA". 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.

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