FDA to tighten rules for e-cig­a­rette sales to stem use by youths

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - BUSINESS - BY LAU­RIE MCGIN­LEY

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, alarmed by a huge in­crease in va­p­ing among mi­nors, is ex­pected to im­pose se­vere re­stric­tions on the sale of most e-cig­a­rette prod­ucts through­out the United States — ac­tions that will likely have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on an in­dus­try that has grown ex­po­nen­tially in re­cent years with lit­tle gov­ern­ment over­sight.

As soon as next week, FDA Com­mis­sioner Scott Got­tlieb is ex­pected to an­nounce a ban on the sale of fla­vored e-cig­a­rettes — the ma­jor­ity of va­p­ing prod­ucts sold — in tens of thou­sands of con­ve­nience stores and gas sta­tions across the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to se­nior agency of­fi­cials. Ac­cord­ing to its of­fi­cials, the agency also will im­pose such rules as age-ver­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments for on­line sales.

The FDA moves are be­ing spurred by pre­lim­i­nary gov­ern­ment data show­ing e-cig­a­rette use rose 77 per­cent among high school­ers and nearly 50 per­cent among mid­dle school­ers in 2018. That means 3.5 mil­lion chil­dren were va­p­ing in early 2018, up 1 mil­lion from 2017.

Got­tlieb, who once served on the board of a North Carolina va­p­ing com­pany, was at one time viewed as an ally of the e-cig­a­rette in­dus­try, and de­layed some crit­i­cal eci­garette rules shortly af­ter be­com­ing com­mis­sioner in 2017. But he has also said his first pri­or­ity is pro­tect­ing kids from to­bac­core­lated dis­ease.

“We now have ev­i­dence that a new gen­er­a­tion is be­ing ad­dicted to nico­tine, and we can’t tol­er­ate that,” he said, re­fer­ring to the va­p­ing data in an in­ter­view be­fore he made fi­nal de­ci­sions on e-cig­a­rette pol­icy.

The only ex­cep­tion to the fla­vored prod­ucts ban in con­ve­nience stores in­volves men­thol e-cig­a­rette prod­ucts. The FDA will con­tinue to per­mit that fla­vor to be sold be­cause men­thol is per­mit­ted in reg­u­lar cig­a­rettes as well, and the agency doesn’t want to give tra­di­tional cig­a­rettes an ad­van­tage over e-cig­a­rettes.

Got­tlieb’s ac­tions are fo­cused on a spe­cific kind of va­p­ing prod­uct that dom­i­nates the mar­ket — e-cig­a­rettes that use prepack­aged fla­vor car­tridges, or pods. That in­cludes the pop­u­lar va­p­ing prod­ucts by Juul Labs Inc. The re­stric­tions don’t ap­ply to the “open-tank” sys­tems avail­able in vape shops.

Re­search in­di­cates many e-cig­a­rette users are likely to get ad­dicted to nico­tine and some will likely end up on reg­u­lar cig­a­rettes, a prod­uct that kills half its long-term users. More­over, the longterm health con­se­quences of va­p­ing are not known.

At the same time, va­p­ing devo­tees and “harm re­duc­tion” ad­vo­cates have said e-cig­a­rettes rep­re­sents a pow­er­ful tool in help­ing adult smok­ers to quit more dan­ger­ous cig­a­rettes. They have warned mak­ing it harder for adults to buy e-cig­a­rettes — or de­priv­ing them of fla­vored prod­ucts — will be detri­men­tal.

BLOOMBERG NEWS

The FDA is fo­cused on e-cig­a­rettes that use prepack­aged fla­vor car­tridges such as those sold by Juul Labs Inc.

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