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5 Updates and Actions Taken in the Fight to Stop Teen Vaping

Samantha DiGrande
Teen nicotine use drastically increased in 2018, largely due to the popularity of e-cigarette products. The FDA has taken a number of recent steps to address the epidemic that has been said to have created a new generation of nicotine addicts. Here are 5 of the latest updates and actions in the fight against teen vaping.
Teen nicotine use drastically increased in 2018, largely due to the popularity of e-cigarette products. The FDA has taken a number of recent steps to address the epidemic that has been said to have created a new generation of nicotine addicts. Here are 5 of the latest updates and actions in the fight against teen vaping.

1. FDA proposes stricter regulations around e-cigarette sales

Between 2017 and 2018, the number of high school students who reported being current e-cigarette users jumped 78% to 3.05 million. In announcing the agency’s plans to create stricter rules surrounding the sale of most flavored versions of e-cigarettes, such as having certain flavors that are more attractive to youth sold in age-restricted sections, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said, “These data shock my conscience.” Additionally, the FDA banned menthol from regular cigarettes and cigars and outlawed flavors in all cigars.

2. Juul Labs heeds FDA and hits pause on sales of certain e-cigarette flavors

Juul Labs, which controls the majority of the US market for e-cigarettes, recognized the impending regulatory action from the FDA and instead said it would voluntarily stop selling certain flavors of its e-cigarettes in retail stores temporarily, though they would continue to be sold online. The announcement came alongside plans to improve its age-verification system. Although Gottlieb recognized the steps taken by Juul, he also tweeted that “Voluntary action is no substitute for regulatory steps #FDA will soon take.”

3. Altria purchases $35 billion stake in Juul

Earlier this year, the FDA accused Juul and Altria of going back on commitments they made to assist the FDA in keeping e-cigarettes away from minors. The companies publicly pledged to remove nicotine flavor pods from store shelves, while secretly negotiating a financial partnership “that seems to do the opposite.” In December 2018, Altria, the nation’s largest maker of combustible cigarettes, agreed to purchase a 35% ($13 billion) stake in Juul. “Juul and Altria made very specific assertions in their letter and statements to the FDA about the drivers of the youth epidemic. Their recent actions and statements appear to be inconsistent with those commitments,” said Gottlieb.

4. FDA threatens to pull all e-cigarettes off the market

In a public hearing that took place earlier this week, the FDA noted that it has not ruled out taking the products off the market completely. “I’ll tell you this. If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of what we found in 2018, I believe this entire category will face an existential threat,” said Gottlieb. He went on to discuss that if the epidemic continues to worsen, the conversation will then change to whether or not the products should continue to be marketed at all.

5. Are tobacco cessation products needed for minors?

More recently, the FDA has found that the rate at which young people are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes had reached levels where FDA-approved methods for quitting e-cigarettes may be necessary. To date, tobacco cessation products available on the market currently are approved for use in adults, rather than minors.

 
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