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FDA announces crackdown on e-cigarette sales to minors :

April 24, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of adolescents beginning with JUUL devices.

The moves come as the Academy and other medical groups have called the devices an “urgent threat to public health.”

“We recognize that if the FDA is to end the tragic cycle of successive generations of nicotine and tobacco addiction, we must take every opportunity to disrupt that process where it starts: youth access to and use of tobacco products,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a news release Tuesday.

JUUL devices resemble USB flash drives, and therefore are easy for teens to hide. They also come in flavors that attract youths who often don’t realize they contain high levels of nicotine. Last week, the Academy and other health groups sent a letter to the FDA, urging immediate action to keep such products away from teens.

As part of the new Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, the FDA is cracking down on the sale of JUUL products to minors both online and in stores and is working with eBay to remove listings from its website. In addition, it plans to continue education efforts and is looking at measures to make tobacco products less appealing and addictive, especially to adolescents.

The FDA has sent an official request to JUUL Labs, Inc., asking for documents on marketing, product design, health impacts and adverse events related to its devices and said it will do the same for makers of similar products attracting youths.

Although the agency expanded its authority to regulate e-cigarettes in 2016, it pushed off deadlines for manufacturers to submit information for a comprehensive review until 2022 and has allowed them to stay on the market. The Academy and other health groups recently filed a lawsuit saying the delays put children at risk.

In 2016, the U.S. surgeon general concluded e-cigarettes are addictive and harmful to developing brains, and earlier this year the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine found users are at increased risk for switching to traditional cigarettes.

Brian Jenssen, M.D., M.S.H.P. FAAP, policy chair of the AAP Section on Tobacco Control Executive Committee and co-author of the 2015 AAP policy Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems,applauded the FDA’s new moves. However, he also said the agency should have acted sooner and shouldn’t delay additional regulations.  

“The stakes are high here,” he said. “There can be a strong argument with the data available to say that we need to be protecting kids from these products and the FDA needs to act. They need to … regulate these e-cigarettes like tobacco products, especially as they pertain to kids.”

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