Curb on e-cig flavours to fight teen va­p­ing scourge

The Star Malaysia - - World -

LOS AN­GE­LES: The US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion next week will is­sue a ban on the sale of fruit and candy flavoured elec­tronic cig­a­rettes in con­ve­nience stores and gas sta­tions, an agency official said, in a move to counter a surge in teenage use of e-cig­a­rettes.

The ban means only to­bacco, mint and men­thol flavours can be sold at th­ese out­lets, the agency official said, po­ten­tially deal­ing a ma­jor blow to Juul Labs Inc, the San Fran­cis­cobased mar­ket leader in vape de­vices.

The FDA will also in­tro­duce stricter agev­er­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments for on­line sales of e-cig­a­rettes. The FDA’s planned re­stric­tions, first re­ported by The Wash­ing­ton Post and con­firmed to Reuters by the official, do not ap­ply to vape shops or other spe­cialty re­tail stores.

There has been mount­ing pressure for ac­tion af­ter pre­lim­i­nary fed­eral data showed teenage use had surged by more than 75% since last year, and the FDA has de­scribed it as an “epi­demic”.

“E-cigs have be­come an al­most ubiq­ui­tous and dan­ger­ous trend among teens,” FDA Com­mis­sioner Scott Got­tlieb said in Septem­ber.

“The dis­turb­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing tra­jec­tory of use we’re see­ing in youth, and the re­sult­ing path to ad­dic­tion, must end. It’s sim­ply not tol­er­a­ble.”

That growth has co­in­cided with the rise of Juul, whose sales of va­p­ing de­vices grew from 2.2 mil­lion in 2016 to 16.2 mil­lion de­vices last year, ac­cord­ing to the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

The agency threat­ened in Septem­ber to ban Juul and four other lead­ing e-cig­a­rette prod­ucts un­less their mak­ers took steps to pre­vent use by mi­nors. The FDA gave Juul and four big to­bacco com­pa­nies 60 days to sub­mit plans to curb un­der­age use, a com­pli­ance pe­riod that is now end­ing. The planned re­stric­tions on flavours in con­ve­nience stores are likely to have the big­gest im­pact on Juul, which sells nico­tine liq­uid pods in flavours such as mango, mint, fruit and creme, pre­vi­ously called creme brulee.

The only other e-cig­a­rette com­peti­tors sold at con­ve­nience stores are those mar­keted pri­mar­ily by to­bacco com­pa­nies such as Al­tria Group Inc, Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco Plc, Im­pe­rial Brands Plc and Ja­pan To­bacco Inc.

Those prod­ucts, sold un­der the MarkTen, blu, Vuse and Logic brands, have lost mar­ket share as Juul has risen to promi­nence over the last year, grow­ing from 13.6% of the US e-cig­a­rette mar­ket in early 2017 to nearly 75% now, ac­cord­ing to a Wells Fargo anal­y­sis of Nielsen re­tail data.

E-cig­a­rette prod­ucts rep­re­sent a small share of rev­enue for ma­jor to­bacco com­pa­nies, whereas Juul’s busi­ness is built en­tirely on the va­p­ing de­vices.

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