The U.S. Federal Drug Administration followed through with its plan to ban e-cigarette products that contain fruit and mint flavors.
In a press release, the government agency said under the ban any companies that don't cease manufacturing, distributing and selling flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes within thirty days could face enforcement action by the FDA.
Ban goes into effect in 30 days
“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes. HHS is taking a comprehensive, aggressive approach to enforcing the law passed by Congress, under which no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in the press release.
“By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as a potential off-ramp for adults using combustible tobacco while ensuring these products don’t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth. We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary.”
More than 5 million youth use e-cigarettes in U.S. alone
The FDA said the final decision to ban the fruit and mint-flavored e-cigarettes comes as the results of the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed more than 5 million middle and high schoolers in the U.S. use e-cigarettes. A majority of those users said they use cartridge-based products. The survey also revealed that about 1.6 million of the youth that use e-cigarettes use it frequently. Other studies show youth are attracted to the fruity and mint flavors much more than tobacco or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes.
"These overall levels of youth e-cigarette use are particularly concerning because using e-cigarettes puts them at risk for nicotine addiction and other health consequences," wrote the FDA. "In particular, evidence shows that youth exposure to nicotine can adversely affect the developing adolescent brain and that, compared with non-users, youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try conventional cigarettes in the future."
FDA plans to prioritize enforcement
In thirty days the FDA said it plans to prioritize enforcement against companies selling the flavored e-cigarettes. It will also go after manufacturers that don't take enough measures to keep them out of the hands of minors and any products that are targeted at minors.
The move on the part of the FDA comes amid a rise in the number of teens who have contracted a deadly lung illness from vaping. So far 55 people across the country have died. The flavored e-cigarettes were supposed to be banned in September when the White House first announced plans but it was delayed due to fierce lobbying on the part of the tobacco and vaping companies.