The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking new steps to address the epidemic of teens using e-cigarettes, including a historic action against more than 1,300 retailers and 5 major manufacturers for their roles perpetuating youth access. The FDA sent these retailers warning letters and fines for selling e-cigarette product to minors, according to an October press release.
E-cigarettes are one of the many products that are supposed to help stop the use of actual cigarettes by vaping or inhaling a liquid that contains nicotine, as well as varying components of flavorings. The liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales, or vapes. The problem is that many teens have begun using them, many unaware that the nicotine is addictive.
“We’re committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced last year,” Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, said in the press release. “But at the same time, 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.”
For years, the US has been trying to reduce the sale of smoking products by continuously slapping taxes on them. Last year, the FDA tried encouraging people to quit smoking by using products like e-cigarettes, but now these items have become popular among the young, according to the Wall Street Journal. In 2017, 2.1 million middle and high school students had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
This could mean huge changes to those who currently sell e-cigarettes such as JUUL® and other related products. Gottlieb warned that the FDA might require resellers to change their sales and marketing practices, and possibly remove flavored e-cigarette products from the market.
The use by children and teens is especially concerning to the FDA because the developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction. That’s why combating youth use of nicotine-containing products is a core priority and the guiding principle behind the FDA’s Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, according to the FDA.
The FDA will also look closely at “straw purchases,” where adults visit e-commerce sites and buy in bulk to resell to minors, according to CNN. If someone goes online and buys 100 units of a product, that should be a red flag for retailers and manufacturers. This may seem like a nit-picky thing to keep track of, but not only will it prevent minors getting ahold of these products, but it will also prevent your company from fines from the FDA.
“While we remain committed to advancing policies that promote the potential of e-cigarettes to help adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes, that work can’t come at the expense of kids. We cannot allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine,” Gottlieb said.
If you sell e-cigarettes or other related smoking products, the FDA has a summary of federal rules for you to look over and make sure you are meeting their requirements. Their website also offers more information on regulations, guidance, and webinars for resellers at www.fda.gov.