FDA chief calls teenage vaping an “epidemic”, announces steps to curb use

Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb escalated efforts to stop an “epidemic” of teenage use of e-cigarettes announcing earlier this week wide-scale enforcement actions against retails selling to minors and a warning to manufacturers of a potential ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

The FDA issued more than 1,300 warning letters and civil money penalty complaints to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarettes to minors. Among those targeted were locations of Walgreens, Walmart, 7-Eleven, Circle K, and Citgo and Exxon gas stations.

Notices were also sent to the five leading e-cigarette manufacturers requiring them to submit plans within 60 days detailing ways to sharply curb sales to underage consumers. If submitted plans don’t promise to “substantially reverse” the youth-use trend, the FDA will consider steps that could lead to temporary or permanent removal of flavored e-cigarettes from the market.

Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar applauded the FDA’s announcement stating, “No child should be using any tobacco or nicotine-containing product. We commend the FDA for the critical, immediate and historic action to address the sale and marketing of these products to kids, while it examines additional aggressive steps to stem the troubling trend of their use among youth.”

The latest FDA data, not yet published, show a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students this year, compared with 2017.

Read the FDA’s press release.