NEW YORK – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to require strict limits on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, including age verification controls for online sales, in an effort to curtail their use among children and teenagers.
FDA officials told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday the actions are expected to be announced as early as next week. The move is an attempt to curb what many are saying is an epidemic of underage vaping.
“What I can’t tolerate is another year of this level of growth,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview Wednesday.
This comes about a week after Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order that’s meant to curb teen vaping.
On Friday, Nov. 5th he signed the order that among other things directs the Department of Revenue to complete more compliance checks on retailers in Colorado.
Also contained in the order, recommendations to the state legislature to end the sale of liquid flavors.
“I believe that in his heart of hearts, Hickenlooper is doing what he thinks is great. I think he has the best intentions in mind, I think he is misinformed though,” Dustin Barnett, CEO and Owner of Vapor Core in Denver told 9News after the order was signed. “If he didn’t ban flavors I agree with literally everything else that he says and I can speak frankly, thinking that most everyone in this industry believes in the same thing.”
The new FDA policy will apply to flavored cartridge-style vaping products like Juul that have become popular among youths, not the open tank-style systems sold in vape shops and mostly used by adults, officials said.
No retail outlets will be allowed to carry them unless it restricts minors from entering the store or creates an off-limits area.
On the heels of the FDA announcement, the maker of JUUL e-cigarettes plans to make changes to their retail sales. The company plans to no longer sell most of its flavored products in convenience stores and gas stations. Those flavors include fruits, such as mango and specialty flavors like cucumber. Sales of flavors would still be allowed online through the JUUL website. Tobacco and menthol flavors will remain on store shelves according to the company.
Since 2017, FDA officials had discussed e-cigarettes as a potential tool to wean adult smokers off cigarettes, but in September the FDA reversed course and warned the industry to address the problem of surging teenage e-cigarette use or risk having their flavored products pulled off the market.
Gottlieb said then that the agency did not predict an “epidemic addiction” among youth, mainly driven by flavored products.
The FDA’s new restrictions were earlier reported by The Washington Post.
Also Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes as soon as next year, possibly making his state the first to prohibit such vaping products often marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.