The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing to crack down on sellers and manufacturers of flavored e-cig products.
Last week, the federal agency sent warning letters to 22 online and brick-and-mortar retailers and manufacturers advising them that selling flavored, cartridge-based electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products is illegal. The warning letters are part of the administration’s crackdown on sales and marketing of electronic cigarette systems to youth.
The warning letters were sent to manufacturers – ProSmoke; Apollo Future Technology, Inc.; Global Tobacco LLC; Premium Manufacturing Facility; WhiteLightning USA; and United Tobacco Vapor Group, as well as to retail stores, including a handful of individual 7-Elevens and individual gas stations like Chevron, Citgo, Conoco, Marathon, Mobil, Shell, and Sunoco stations.
“A top priority for the FDA remains protecting youth from the dangers of tobacco use, and in particular, combating the concerning youth e-cigarette use epidemic that is affecting children, families, schools, and communities. We are committed to holding retailers and manufacturers accountable for marketing and sales practices that have led to increased youth accessibility and appeal of e-cigarettes. We will be using our regulatory authority to address youth e-cigarette use by focusing on the products that are most popular among kids,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “We will not hesitate to aggressively pursue bad actors and expect to take more actions soon. Our policy is designed to be flexible, so we can focus our priorities as warranted to tackle youth use.”
As part of legislation passed earlier this year, the FDA said it is prioritizing flavored e-cigarettes that the administration believes are targeted at young people. According to some studies, as many as 5 million middle schoolers and high schoolers in America say they have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, while 1.5 million of them said they use them daily.
Restrictions on flavored e-cigarette products stem from studies that show teens are more likely to use fruit or mint-flavored e-cigarette products. Last year, federal law prohibited sales of any tobacco products to anyone under 21 to reduce the likelihood teenagers would develop an addiction to nicotine.
The FDA said it also sent letters to manufacturers and importers asking about their electronic cigarette products, including information about how the products are marketed. Marketing these products to underage people is also prohibited by federal legislation. The FDA said any products on the market much meet specific standards set forth by Congress to legally be sold.
In the coming year, the agency will release a public education campaign aimed at teenagers to deter them from using e-cigarettes and other products.