US regulators plan to impose strict limits on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in a bid to curb children and teenagers from using the devices.
The measures, including age verification controls for online sales, are expected to be announced as early as next week, FDA officials told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb insists the move is bold and a sign of how seriously he takes the matter as he tries to crack down on, what he terms, an ‘epidemic’ of teen e-cigarette use, which erupted in the past year.
‘What I can’t tolerate is another year of this level of growth,’ FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview Wednesday.
But he was swiftly upstaged by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said the state plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes outright.
The new policy will apply to flavored cartridge-style vaping products like Juul that have become popular among youths, not the open tank-style systems sold in vape shops and mostly used by adults, officials said.
No retail outlets will be allowed to carry them unless it restricts minors from entering the store or creates an off-limits area.
Since 2017, FDA officials had discussed e-cigarettes as a potential tool to wean adult smokers off cigarettes, but in September the FDA reversed course and warned the industry to address the problem of surging teenage e-cigarette use or risk having their flavored products pulled off the market.
Gottlieb said then that the agency did not predict an ‘epidemic addiction’ among youth, mainly driven by flavored products.
The FDA’s new restrictions were earlier reported by The Washington Post.
Gottlieb says there are no plans to limit the sale of menthol flavored vapes, since those are the ones most commonly used by adults trying to give up smoking.
‘Would you give a recovering alcoholic a whiskey-flavored drink? No. So we don’t want to leave smokers with only tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes,’ Gottlieb told Politico’s Pulsecheck podcast on Thursday.
Also Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes as soon as next year, possibly making his state the first to prohibit such vaping products often marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.