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US bans 'unauthorized' sweet flavored vaping cartridges

US officials announce BAN on flavored e-cigarette cartridges in an effort to combat the youth vaping epidemic

  • On Thursday, US Food and Drug Administration officials announced that all companies must cease to sell sweet flavored or mint vaping cartridges 
  • It will allow companies to seek approval of these devices, but so far none have been green lit 
  • The new rule is a blow to companies like Juul which have shot to popularity with flavors like ‘creme brulee’ and ‘mint’ 
  • More than one in four high school students is estimated to vape  

The US government on Thursday announced it would soon ban most flavored e-cigarettes as it tries to curb a rising tide of youth vaping, but stopped short of the full ban promised in September by President Donald Trump.

The Food and Drug Administration said cartridge-based e-cigarettes in flavors ‘other than tobacco or menthol’ would be illegal unless they receive specific authorization from the government.

Companies that do not cease making and selling such cartridges within 30 days will face punishment, the FDA said.

The move comes just after President Trump hinted at an upcoming temporary ban on ‘certain flavors’ during a New Years Eve party he hosted at Mar-a-Lago, and months after the CDC found that more than one in four US teens vapes. 

The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that more than five million US middle and high school students are e-cigarette users, with nearly one million using daily

‘The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,’ Health Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Azar said prioritizing flavors most widely used by children would ensure e-cigarettes were a potential ‘off-ramp’ for adult smokers but not an ‘on-ramp’ to nicotine addiction for youngsters.

‘We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary,’ he added.

The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that more than five million US middle and high school students are e-cigarette users, with nearly one million using daily.

‘Additional data from another federal survey further underscore that youth are particularly attracted to e-cigarette flavors such as fruit and mint, much more so than tobacco or menthol flavored e-cigarettes,’ the Department of Health and Human Services said.

The flavor ban will exempt large, tank-based vaping devices, however, which are primarily sold in vape shops that cater to adult smokers.

Although most of the victims of vaping-linked lung illness are young adults, the parallel surge in teens vaping has pushed addressing e-cigarettes to the top of US health officials priorities.

Survey results published earlier this year found that sweet and mint flavors are the most popular among high school students – and the brand of choice is Juul. 

Juul has been the prime suspect in the youth vaping epidemic, with the FDA investigating its marketing practices for targeting young people and schools suing the company after they had to invest resources to keep kids from using the flash drive-like devices in bathroom stalls. 

Now, sweet flavored cartridges of any brand as as well as Juul’s best-selling ‘mint’ pods will be pulled from the market and the companies may face enforcement actions from the FDA. 

‘Because of the relatively low numbers of youth using both menthol- and tobacco-flavored, cartridge-based ENDS products, these products are not among the current enforcement priorities,’ the FDA said in a statement. 

‘However, should the FDA become aware of an increase of youth using any other flavored products (both cartridge-based or otherwise), the agency will take additional steps to address youth use of those products if necessary.’ 

The FDA noted that the ‘ban’ only applies to companies selling ‘unauthorized’ flavored vaping products. 

Currently, the agency is accepting applications for approval of vaping products but hasn’t actually given any of them the green light, meaning that all flavored products currently sold are ‘unauthorized’ for the time being.  

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  • Posted on January 26, 2020