A spike in teen vaping has spurred the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to seek new rules governing e-cigarettes. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced the proposed regulations in a statement on Thursday.
If adopted, the new rules would prohibit flavored e-cigarette products from being sold in stores and websites used by children. They would not apply to retailers that restrict access to adults only, such as tobacconists, vape shops, and age-restricted websites.
Youth Vaping Up Dramatically
The tighter rules on e-cigarettes were prompted by new data that show that vaping has increased by 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent by children in middle school. The survey of students conducted from March through May of this year also found that students who vape are doing so more frequently and using more flavored products.
“These increases must stop. And the bottom line is this: I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes. We won’t let this pool of kids, a pool of future potential smokers, of future disease and death, to continue to build. We’ll take whatever action is necessary to stop these trends from continuing,” Gottlieb said.
“This spike in use threatens to stall or reverse the substantial public health gains we’ve made by reducing tobacco use overall, and especially among children,” he added.
Gottlieb noted that young people who vape have a higher chance of becoming smokers.
“The data show that kids using e-cigarettes are going to be more likely to try combustible cigarettes later,” Gottlieb said. “This is a large pool of future risk.”
Menthol Still OK
Menthol, mint, and tobacco flavored vape products will be exempted from the new rules. Gottlieb said that the FDA wanted to keep those products available for adults who wish to use them as an aid in quitting smoking, although he was wary they also might be used by kids.
“We will not allow that opportunity to come at the expense of addicting a whole new generation of kids to nicotine,” Gottlieb said.
The FDA is also, however, proposing that menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars no longer be permitted.
Not Far Enough?
Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement on Friday that the new rules are not tight enough to prevent young people from vaping.
“The FDA needs to go further,” said Myers. “There is nothing to prevent the number of vape shops from rapidly expanding and there is no solid evidence that vape shops do a good job of preventing illegal underage sales.”
Gottlieb said that the FDA would continue monitoring the use of e-cigarettes by young people.