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FDA Seeks New E-Cig Regulations in Response to Spike in Teen Vaping

Because more teens are using e-cigarettes, the FDA is pushing for change.

FDA Seeks New E-Cig Regulations in Response to Spike in Teen Vaping
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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.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement on Thursday that flavored e-cigarettes are contributing to nicotine addiction
“Flavors are a major reason they use these products in the first place,” Azar said. “Flavors increase the likelihood of kids progressing from experimentation to regular use, and a portion of them will go on to use combustible tobacco products, with the huge added dangers of tobacco-related disease.”

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.

“We’re committed to utilizing the full range of our regulatory authorities to directly target the places kids are getting these products and address the role flavors and marketing are playing,” Gottlieb said. “We will leave no stone unturned,” he said. “This is one of our highest priorities.”

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