The US Food and Drug Administration announced today they have taken a step to reduce the sales of e-cigarettes to minors by sending out 1,100 warning letters and 131 fines to retail stores that were caught selling to minors.
The FDA is calling for the top five e-cigarette manufacturers, Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL, and Logic, to come up with a plan that would prevent minors from buying their products within 60 days or face serious consequences, particularly requiring all future flavored products to be authorized.
E-cigarettes are the most widely used tobacco product among youths. In 2017 over 2 million highschool students used them, according to an FDA study.
Art Caplan, the director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, called the FDA’s crackdown on youth e-cigarette use “overdue” on Boston Public Radio Friday.
"The campaigns are clearly aimed at young people ... They are just engaged in pretty scurrilous practices when they send the product out there and say start smoking this thing with its menthol flavor, and you’ll be hip too,” he said.
While long-time cigarette addicts have benefited from the use of e-cigarettes to help them break their habitat and avoid carcinogen filled smoke, Capan said that they are still harmful and should be treated as such.
“They are basically delivering nicotine, they are not delivering the tar and other dangerous substances too, but they got plenty of nicotine in them and you can get addicted to them fast,” he said.
E-cigarettes are not directly advertised to minors but Caplan and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb think the youth market is being particularly targeted by flavored products.
“I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products,” Gottlieb said.
“You just can’t have a business that is addicting minors to nicotine, that is intolerable,” Caplan said.