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16 September 2018, 01:19 | Kelvin Horton
The FDA Is Considering Pulling Some Flavored E-Cigarettes From the Market to Fight 'Epidemic' of Youth Vaping
"It is absolutely absurd and a perversion of how regulatory agencies are supposed to approach their work".
Shares of Big Tobacco companies surged in trading Wednesday.
Gottlieb cited preliminary data that has not yet been published, but which he said shows "youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply".
Starting at the top, the agency has asked five top e-cigarette manufacturers to present plans to reverse the trend of underage use.
"The FDA will not tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a trade-off for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products", he said. In a order, they called for toughen for their bipartisan legislation, launched in July, which may perchance perchance presumably ban flavored cigars and situation stringent controls on e-juice flavorings. But he stopped short of requiring any such changes.
It marks a shift in the agency's tone on e-cigarettes.
Despite the fact that they can not legally be sold to anyone under 18, e-cigarettes - hand-held vaporizers that create aerosols from liquids typically packed with nicotine and other chemicals, often including flavorings - are now the most popular tobacco product among high school students, recent federal data shows.
Of the 3.6 million middle- and high-school students who said they are tobacco-product users, 2.1 million used e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It constitutes almost 12 percent of high school students and 3 percent of middle school students used the device in the past 30 days. And the US wouldn't be the first country to contemplate such an action. These five brands now comprise over 97 percent of the US market for e-cigarettes. And the advocates for these devices also say that look; you know, today tobacco stocks went up, which is a signal that, you know, who's going to benefit from this but the tobacco companies?
The announcement came as surprise, given Gottlieb's earlier comments, supporting e-cigarettes specifically for the reason that the industry gives for avoiding the ban.
The threatened Wednesday to yank flavored e-cigarettes from shelves unless companies find ways to prevent sales to children, saying their use has reached epidemic levels among minors and is an unacceptable trade-off for helping adults wean off regular cigarettes. "We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people".
But at a Wednesday morning press conference and in a statement posted on the agency's website, the FDA commissioner acknowledged that federal health officials failed to recognize "the extent of what's now become one of our biggest challenges". While often touted as a way for smokers to break their habits or to reduce their intake of numerous cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke, research suggests that many e-cigarette users also smoke traditional cigarettes and perhaps have no acquired a dual habit.
In the absence of such plans, Gottlieb vowed "to revisit the FDA's exercise of enforcement discretion for products now on the market". "And we're seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market".
"Let me be clear: Everything is on the table, including all our civil and criminal enforcement tools", Gottlieb said in a speech at FDA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
A study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine says compared to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes reduce the exposure of potentially harmful chemicals, all except for nicotine. And in fact, the FDA's announced a plan to basically slash the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to try to wean more Americans off tobacco cigarettes.
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