Medicine

Too many teens are using Juuls, according to the FDA

Too many teens are using Juuls, according to the FDA

"The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we're seeing in youth and the resulting path to addiction must end", Scott Gottlieb, head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said.

"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", he added.

Juul and four other manufacturers, which Gottlieb said control 97% of the market, are now required to provide plans to mitigate youth sales within 60 days or face potential criminal or civil action. The FDA took the largest enforcement action against more than 1,300 retailers and five manufacturers of selling e-cigarettes on Wednesday.

"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.

Studies show that teens who vape are also more likely to go on to smoke traditional burned cigarettes. They noted the survey did not ask specifically about Juul, a sleek, heavily-marketed e-cigarette brand that exploded onto the market and accounts for 70 percent of USA sales, according to analyst estimates. Failing to do so, or making unsatisfactory efforts, "could mean requiring these brands to remove some or all of their flavored products that may be contributing to the rise in youth use from the market until they receive premarket authorization and otherwise meet all of their obligations under the law", the FDA statement says. The FDA is demanding what Gottlieb describes as "plans to immediately and substantially reverse" the "clear and present danger" of adolescent vaping.

Shares of British American Tobacco were up almost 6 percent and shares of cigarette-maker Imperial Brands PLC were up more than 3 percent.

It will also "re-visit" the policy it announced previous year, which gave e-cigarette companies more time to apply for regulatory approval.

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The agency said it allowed the extra time to strike an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging the development of innovative tobacco products that may help older smokers quit.

Imperial Brands unit Fontem Ventures said it would work to further strengthen youth access prevention policies and procedures.

However, he seemed reluctant to give up on flavored nicotine, because he said it appeals to adult cigarette smokers.

And some of the retailers that received warning letters are still advertising and selling these products, he said. If the FDA sees continued underage use as an argument for banning e-cigarettes, the industry is doomed, even though it offers what the agency recognizes as "an alternative for adult smokers who still seek access to satisfying levels of nicotine, but without all of the harmful effects that come from combustion".

The FDA is trying to set up a framework for regulating e-cigarettes.

In April the agency launched a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, created to address some of the known public health risks, such as flavors, that contribute to adolescent use of e-cigarettes.

Many use fruit- or candy-flavored liquids that critics say appeal to kids, and risk addicting them to nicotine.