WASH/LA-The Food and Drug Administration said on September 12-they are considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in response to an "epidemic" of young people using e-cigarettes, the agency's leader said.
As of 2017, more than two million high school-age Americans used e-cigarettes, a trend that represents a historic uptake of nicotine products, the FDA said.
Gottlieb noted that the FDA continues to support the availability of products to help adult smokers quit, but 'that work can't come at the expense of kids, ' he said.
"Given the alarming spike in e-cigarette use among Minnesota youth, we need a full-court press to prevent another generation from getting hooked on nicotine", said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in the release.
The FDA set a 60-day deadline for five major tobacco manufacturers to provide a plan for mitigating youth sales, or the agency will pull them out of the market. The premise of such threats is that the interests of adults who might want to switch from smoking to a far less hazardous form of nicotine consumption should be sacrificed for the sake of curtailing e-cigarette use by minors, which is already illegal.
Supermarket, drug and mass retail and fuel locations cited in the FDA action - primarily with warnings - included Coborn's, Dillons, Dollar General, Food Lion, Fred Meyer, Fred's, Fry's, H-E-B, Hannaford, Harps, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Rite Aid, Safeway, Smith's, Walgreens and Walmart.
"We're especially focused on the flavored e-cigarettes", said Gottlieb.
Hutsell says that he lost his mother to lung cancer after she smoked for over 30 years and that he wishes vaping was available for her back then.
It will also "re-visit" the policy it announced a year ago, which gave e-cigarette companies more time to apply for regulatory approval.
"If young adults go online and buy 100 units of a product to sell to teens, that activity ought to be easy for a product manufacturer to identify", said Gottlieb. "It's now clear to me, that in closing the on-ramp to kids, we're going to have to narrow the off-ramp for adults who want to migrate off combustible tobacco and onto e-cigs".
"I think it became clear to FDA that if they didn't get their arms around this issue the use of these products by kids across the nation would undo decades of progress", said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
According to the Washington Post, the preliminary data is from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, and it shows a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in 2018 compared to 2017. Lisa Murkowski also asked the FDA to end delays.
On Wednesday, Gottlieb criticized e-cigarette companies' handling of the underage use problem, saying they approached it as "a public relations challenge rather than seriously considering their legal obligations".
In addition, the FDA on Wednesday issued 12 warning letters to online retailers for selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies. "Teenagers are becoming regular users, and the proportion of regular users is increasing", Gottlieb tells USA Today.
It marks a shift in the agency's tone on e-cigarettes.