As e-cigarette use and vaping-related health problems continue to rise among American youth, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it will remove unauthorized flavors for cartridge-based e-cigs, such as fruit and mint, from the market because of their appeal to children, according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The agency’s new plan is specifically aimed at groups of products that haven’t been given premarket approval. Companies have 30 days to stop the manufacturing, distribution and sale of any flavored cartridge-based electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)—except tobacco or menthol—or risk facing consequences from the FDA.
Action will also be taken against any manufacturers who fail to take appropriate measures, such as using adequate age-verification technology to prevent minors’ access to all ENDS products. This includes companies still selling ENDS products that are targeted to minors or likely to promote e-cig use by minors, such as those marketed with characters designed to appeal to youngsters.
Manufacturers wishing to market any ENDS products, including flavored e-cigs or e-liquids, must by law submit an application to the FDA that “demonstrates that the product meets the applicable standard in the law, such as whether the product is appropriate for the protection of public health,” HHS says. In order to get a product authorized for sale, businesses must show how marketing may affect youth initiation and use of the item.
In addition, after May 12, the FDA will prioritize the enforcement of its ban on the sale of ENDS products that have not been preauthorized.
“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,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Azar said the government won’t stand by without taking any action as the e-cig epidemic among youth continues to grow, adding that further action would be taken if deemed necessary.
This is not the first effort by the Trump administration to fight the vaping epidemic among young people. Last month, the FDA raised the minimum age for buying tobacco products—including e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges—from 18 to 21.