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Teen vaping "epidemic" has FDA mulling ban on flavored e-cigs

Popular brands have 60 days to prove they're battling teen use or the FDA could yank their products from the shelves.

by Rex Santus
Sep 12 2018, 3:25pm

Enjoy your crème brûlée–flavored JUUL pods while you can — because they might not be around much longer if the Food and Drug Administration has anything to say about it.

The FDA announced Wednesday that it is considering removing flavored e-cigarettes from the shelves altogether due to an “epidemic” of increased use by children and teens.

“I have grown increasingly concerned around what we see as rising youth use in these products, and I’m disappointed in the actions the companies have taken to try to address this,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Bloomberg, describing the use of e-cigarettes as having reached “epidemic proportion.”

Five of the most popular e-cigarette brands — JUUL, MarkTen, blu, Vuse, Logic — now have 60 days to show the FDA that they are addressing the use of their products by children or teens. If they fail, flavored e-cigarettes could disappear from stores just like Four Loko, a candy-flavored malt liquor drink that was also popular among teens.

In July, JUUL announced it would introduce a line of lower-nicotine pods in its mint and Virginia tobacco flavors in response to criticism that the company had been targeting teens with its fruity, nicotine-intense flavors, a line that also includes mango, cucumber, and creme brûlée.

About 3.6 million middle and high schoolers in the U.S. used tobacco products in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, about 1 in 6 high school students had used an e-cigarette, per the CDC, and in the year before that, e-cigarette use among young adults (aged 18-24) surpassed use by adults over 25.

“There is no question that a lot of the youth use is being driven by Juul,” Gottlieb said to Bloomberg.

Cover image: A Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarette and flavored pods are arranged for a photograph in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S., on Sunday July 8, 2018. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images