FDA moves to restrict flavored e-cigarettes

Food & Drug Administrator (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Nov. 15 issued a statement outlining plans to sharply curb sales of sweet and fruity flavored e-cigarettes in an attempt to address skyrocketing levels of underage use.

Within 90 days, e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers must implement the changes to remove sweet and fruity e-cigarettes from convenience store shelves, while online sales will be stopped until websites install new age-verification safeguards.

The FDA also said it will ban menthol flavors in traditional combustible cigarettes, and it will soon enact a ban on flavored cigars. Mint and menthol flavored e-cigarettes will not be subject to the new e-cigarette restrictions.

The recent restrictions are sparked by data showing that from 2017 to 2018 there was a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students.

The FDA met with five of the largest e-cigarette makers over the last two months, including industry leader Juul, which has already been the target of enforcement efforts. Juul earlier this week announced plans to pull flavored vapors from the market and institute age-verification measures online. Another tobacco and e-cigarette maker, Altria, also recently announced it would stop selling most flavored products and endorsed raising the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21.

Read the FDA proposed rule dated Mar. 21.