Federal regulators have unveiled their enforcement policy on flavored e-cigarette products that includes enforcing a Food and Drug Administration-approved ban on fruit and mint flavors. According to the FDA guidance document for the industry, tobacco and menthol-flavored products will be permitted but the agency intends to crackdown on manufacturers and retailers of otherwise flavored e-cigarettes.
Last year Congress approved a measure to give the FDA oversight power over the e-cigarette industry.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the nation is seeing an “epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes” and that under federal laws, “no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally.”
The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that more than 5 million U.S. middle and high school students have used an e-cigarette product within the last 30 days.
Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping advocacy organization, told Vice that when the e-cigarette ban was announced in September, “the conventional wisdom was that there was little hope of stopping it.”
HHS is ordering that manufacturers of e-cigarettes and vaping products cease manufacturing, distribution, and sale of flavored pods and products within 30 days, unless they begin an application process for authorization and ensure that age verification is mandatory in stores and online. The legal age to buy tobacco products was raised to 21 by the federal government last month.
FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D said in a statement that raising the legal age, paired with the e-cigarette reforms balance “the urgency with which we must address the public health threat of youth use of e-cigarette products with the potential role that e-cigarettes may play in helping adult smokers transition completely away from combustible tobacco to a potentially less risky form of nicotine delivery.”
To date, the FDA has not approved any application for flavored e-cigarette products.
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