Teenagers across the country use e-cigarettes and American health officials are worried.
The Food and Drug Administration warns e-cigarette companies and the public about the "addiction epidemic" that occurs among minors, which seems to be driven by flavored products, according to the AP.
The FDA mentioned recent data showing that the use by minors of devices for e-cigarettes such as Juul, Vuse and more has increased.
Last year, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that e-cigarettes could be useful to keep adult smokers from cigarettes because of the different levels of nicotine available in products.
Gottlieb went on to say that he did not predict the now visible epidemic in underage smokers.
"The disturbing and accelerating pathway that we see in youth and the resulting path to addiction must end," Gottlieb said. The FDA will now investigate how they can curb the use of e-cigarettes in teenagers.
From the AP:
E-cigarettes are vapor-emitting devices that have grown into a billion-dollar industry in the US, despite little research into their long-term effects, including whether they are useful to help stop smokers. They are generally regarded as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes. But health officials have warned that nicotine in e-cigarettes is harmful to brain development.
They usually contain nicotine and sometimes flavors such as fruit, mint or chocolate.
Health educators are concerned about the popularity of infant products in children and the possible influence this will have on smoking prices in the future. In a report commissioned by the government in January, "substantial evidence" was found that young people who use e-cigarettes try to try cigarettes.
According to the regulations of the Obama administration, manufacturers would submit most products for assessment by August 2018. But last year, Gottlieb set the deadline to 2022, with both the office and the industry needing more time to prepare.
The decision was criticized by anti-smoking proponents who claim that e-cigarette makers focus on children with snubies and marketing that portray their products as flashy, hand-held gadgets.
Under Wednesday's announcement, the five largest manufacturers of e-cigarettes have 60 days to make plans to stop the use by minors of their products. The companies sell the brands Vuse, Blu, Juul, MarkTen XL and Logic for e-cigarettes, which according to the FDA sell 97 percent of American e-cigarettes.
If the plans fail, the FDA may block the sale of the products by enforcing a requirement that companies provide detailed design and health information about their products before they are placed on the market. Due to the delay that the FDA had on that requirement, the industry could flourish with little supervision. But it is not clear how quickly the decision can be reversed.
The FDA also announced 1,300 warning letters and fines for online and traditional stores that illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarettes to minors. Regulators said it was the largest coordinated crackdown in the history of the agency.
The FDA is in the process of rolling out a far-reaching anti-smoking initiative designed to make it easier for smokers to stop by reducing the nicotine levels in regular cigarettes. As part of that plan, Gottlieb has suggested that some smokers might be targeting alternative products that deliver nicotine without carcinogenic substances from cigarettes. Those products may contain e-cigarettes, although the FDA has not authorized any company to advertise the device as a tool to stop smoking.
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