The government wants to crack down on candy-flavored e-cigs and menthol cigarettes in a huge move against tobacco products

Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has focused on how e-cigarettes appeal to young people.

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Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has focused on how e-cigarettes appeal to young people.
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Reuters

  • America’s food and drug regulator is proposing to crack down on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes like the Juul at convenience stores and gas stations, citing their skyrocketing popularity among teens.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is also seeking to ban menthol cigarettes, and it is looking into restrictions on flavored cigars, too.
  • The moves are designed to combat a variety of products that the government says contribute to kids’ being hooked on nicotine.

In an attempt to address what government regulators are calling an “epidemic” of teen smoking and vaping, the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday announced broad plans to restrict sales of flavored e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes.

The FDA is seeking to limit sales of flavored vapes to locations where all customers are over 18. The government also wants to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, according to a statement.

“The bottom line is this: I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes,” the FDA’s commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, said in the statement.

The FDA’s proposals are the culmination of several years of evaluation of the effects of vaping and cigarette flavors on youth smoking. Gottlieb had initially been more optimistic that e-cigs could help adults move away from combustible cigarettes, but he grew increasingly concerned that the devices were largely causing children to become addicted to nicotine.

The government released new data Thursday showing a huge increase in teen use of e-cigarettes. The number of high-school students vaping jumped 78% to 3.05 million (21% of all high schoolers) in 2018. About 5% of middle-school students were also found to use e-cigs.

FDA singled out devices such as those from Juul Labs as encouraging teen smoking. Juul’s e-cigs are sleek, flash-drive-like devices and have a relatively high nicotine content.

Read more: Experts are calling out a vape pen with ‘scary’ nicotine levels that teens love – here’s how it affects the brain

In anticipation of the FDA’s move, Juul, the biggest seller of e-cigarettes, announced this week that it was suspending sales of its flavored products at retail stores.

Many of the proposals made Thursday will still need to go through the full government rulemaking process and are likely to face pushback.