The Food and Drug Administration has issued a statement declaring the use of e-cigarettes among teens to have reached “epidemic” proportions.
Major retailers and manufactures have been given 60 days to find a way to prove that they are able to keep their devices out of the hands of minors. The FDA is taking ‘historic’ action against these five major manufactures and more than 1300 retailers. Federal law strictly prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes or tobacco products to any individual who is under the age of 18. If these retailers and manufactures fail to deliver results within those 60 days, they may face civil or criminal action from the FDA.
“We’ve worked too hard over the past 50 years to reduce smoking rates among young people to let these companies profit off of getting them hooked on nicotine,” attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, said. “This move by the F.D.A. is a good first step to shut down companies targeting minors.”
The FDA will be focusing heavily on the flavored e-cigarettes, and have even discussed completely removing them from the market. Many of the flavors that mimic things such as candy or cookies are thought to be attractive to minors. In their statement the FDA announced that they will also be looking closely for what are being referred to as “straw sales” by major retailers. These sales are when a person buys product in bulk for the purpose of selling to others. This is spotted when there are bulk orders through the website of a manufacturer. Utilising this practice often results in product being sold to minors who otherwise would have difficulty acquiring it.
“I’ll be clear. The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb said.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the FDA has stated that more than two million teenagers were using e-cigarettes last year. The FDA fears that e-cigarettes are creating an entirely new problem by hooking teens on nicotine who have never smoked a cigarette before. While they may be effective in helping adult smokers, it has become evident that they are getting the younger generation hooked. These e-cigarettes lack many of the dangerous chemicals in regular cigarettes, but they have even more nicotine in them. Despite being viewed as an alternative to cigarettes, there is little to no research on the long term health effects.
Anti-smoking groups such as Truth Initiative have been showing mixed reactions regarding the actions of the FDA. While the groups are pleased that the FDA is taking action, there are concerns regarding long term change. Many activist groups feel that the tobacco industry has proven that they are unable to regulate themselves. Unless the FDA makes sure that manufactures and retailers comply, ultimately there may be very little change.
“Asking the tobacco industry to come up with solutions is the proverbial case of asking the fox to guard the hen house,” Robin Koval, the president of Truth Initiative, said.