Friday, 21 September, 2018

USA calls teen e-cig use an 'epidemic'

A man breathes in from an e-cigarette at a vape shop in London on Aug. 17 2018 A man breathes in from an e-cigarette at a vape shop in London on Aug. 17 2018
Delores Daniels | 14 September, 2018, 15:41

American health officials threatened to ban flavoured e-cigarettes, warning of a teenage vaping "epidemic".

"The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we're seeing in youth and the resulting path to addiction must end", Gottlieb told agency staffers and reporters. "It be simply no longer tolerable".

On Wednesday, FDA also sent letters to the five leading e-cigarette manufacturers - JUUL, Vuse, MarkTen, blu, and Logic - requesting plans within 60 days to address sales to minors.

The undercover investigation took place from June through the end of August, with the majority of violations involving the sale of products by the five manufacturers, which make up more than 97 percent of the USA e-cigarette market.

The FDA moves come as it seeks to balance its approach on e-cigarettes, which can be used to wean lifelong smokers onto less harmful nicotine products but also risk drawing a new generation to nicotine addiction. "We're going to have to take action".

To the extent that teenagers who otherwise would be smoking are vaping instead, that is an unambiguous gain in public health terms, since the latter habit is much less unsafe.

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The commissioner said flavors play a key role in peaking teen interest.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that he believes flavored vape liquids target teenagers specifically and his agency is considering banning them altogether. If manufacturers aren't willing to do the research, he said, the FDA will do it for them, with appropriate consequences.

Despite the fact that not one person casted a vote for Gottlieb, his board at the FDA has the future of flavored e-cigarettes in their hands.

Collectively, the five industry leaders command more than 97% of the USA market for e-cigarettes, and Gottlieb took them to task for their response to concerns expressed earlier by the FDA about underage marketing and sales.

Reason explains that Gottlieb is considering "reneging on the FDA's four-year extension of the deadline for seeking regulatory approval to continue selling e-cigarettes, which would wreak havoc with a market that he concedes has great potential for reducing smoking-related disease and death".

"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.

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U.S. regulators said Wednesday they are considering an immediate ban on flavored e-cigarettes, as the Food and Drug Administration chief warned of an "epidemic" of vaping among youths.

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.

"Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes". Hindsight, and the data now available to us, reveal these trends. Nearly 12% of high school students and 3% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in the prior 30 days.

In addition to these new actions, the FDA had previously issued more than 60 warning letters and fines to businesses that sold JUUL brand products to minors stemming from another enforcement blitz in the spring.

Congress gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009. Other big players are owned by big tobacco conglomerates; Camel parent British American Tobacco makes Vuse e-cigarettes, and Marlboro parent Altria makes MarkTen e-cigarettes.

The agency said it plans to unveil a new e-cigarette public education campaign targeted to youth next week, and will soon announce wider access to new nicotine replacement therapies to help more adult smokers quit cigarettes.

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