WASHINGTON – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced a series of actions related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to underage users.
In the largest coordinated enforcement effort in FDA history, the agency issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover blitz of brick-and-mortar and online stores this summer.
As a result of the sting operation and other indicators of growing e-cigarette use by young people, Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner, indicated that the agency is considering significant steps to address this challenge, including pulling all flavored e-cigarettes from the U.S. market.
“We will also revisit our compliance policy that extended the dates for manufacturers of certain flavored e-cigarettes to submit applications for premarket authorization,” Gottlieb said. “I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products.”
After years of declining smoking rates in the U.S., e-cigarettes sales have jumped. The most popular brands offer fruit- and mint-flavored refills that sell for about $4 each and can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
The FDA has asked five e-cigarette manufacturers to develop plans to reverse this trend or face a potential decision by the FDA to reconsider extending the compliance dates for submission of premarket applications.
“We won’t allow the current trends in youth access and use to continue, even if it means putting limits in place that reduce adult uptake of these products,” Gottlieb said.
“As a founder and member of the board of directors of We Card, NACS has a long history of working to ensure that retailers responsibly sell legal products,” said Lyle Beckwith, NACS senior vice president, government relations.
“We Card included an e-cigarette training module several years ago—before there were any regulations on these products—to train retailers to identify and avoid underage sales,” he added. “This FDA announcement serves as a reminder to all tobacco retailers to utilize training, such as We Card, to prohibit underage sales.”