FDA takes action against e-cigarette epidemic among youth

FDA puts e-cig makers on notice

"We're committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced past year", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

"We didn't foresee the extent of what's now become one of our biggest challenges", he said, in prepared remarks.

The FDA recognized the impact its actions might have on adults trying to stop smoking, Gottlieb said, but emerging research on how flavored products encourage excessive use by young people shows action must be taken.

Under Wednesday's FDA announcement, the five largest e-cigarette manufacturers will have 60 days to produce plans to stop underage use of their products.

Juul Labs said it would work with the FDA and is committed to preventing underage use of its product.

You can read the full New York Times article here.

Shares of British American Tobacco were up almost 6 percent and shares of cigarette-maker Imperial Brands PLC were up more than 3 percent. However, a recent study in Pediatrics discovered that teens who smoked e-cigarettes had higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals in their bodies than non-smokers.

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"This could result in a bullet through the head of Juul, the driver of youth initiation", said Nico von Stackelberg, an analyst with Liberum in London.

In April the agency launched a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, created to address some of the known public health risks, such as flavors, that contribute to adolescent use of e-cigarettes. He declined to disclose the evidence. Failing to do so, or making unsatisfactory efforts, "could mean requiring these brands to remove some or all of their flavored products that may be contributing to the rise in youth use from the market until they receive premarket authorization and otherwise meet all of their obligations under the law", the FDA statement says.

A representative from Vuse, whose parent company is British American Tobacco, said: "We share Commissioner Gottlieb's concerns and applaud his approach to eliminating youth usage of all tobacco products".

The Juul in particular resembles a USB drive, making it easy for teenagers to hide and even bring to school.

What's more, e-cigarette liquids like Juul pods contain high concentrations of nicotine. "Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch", Burns said in a statement. "By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission". "Inevitably what we are going to have to contemplate are actions that may narrow the off-ramp for adults who see e-cigarettes as a viable alternative to combustible tobacco in order to close the on-ramp for kids", he told reporters.

It cited estimates from Public Health England that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than normal cigarettes. He said in June tobacco companies "better step up and step up soon" but he didn't divulge what consequences the industry could face - until now. That initiative emerged from the agency's broader plan to regulate nicotine and tobacco, unveiled in July 2017, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Gottlieb used "enforcement discretion" to extend the deadline for e-cigarette makers' marketing applications until 2022, saying both the agency and the industry needed more time to prepare.

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