Following reports this week that such a move was imminent, the Food and Drug Administration is bringing the hammer down on your beloved, fruity pre-filled e-cigarettes capsules in an attempt to curb the rise of youth vaping in the U.S.
The agency said Thursday that it has finalised an enforcement policy to bar the manufacturer, distribution, and sale of any pod-based e-cig flavours other than menthol or tobaccoâ€”meaning mint will also hit the regulatory chopping block. The flavour ban will specifically target cartridge-based vaping products as well as all other electronic nicotine delivery systems that are targeted to minors or â€œfor which the manufacturer has failed to take (or is failing to take) adequate measures to prevent minorsâ€™ access.â€
As the Wall Street Journal previously reported would likely be the case, the agency said it wonâ€™t prioritise enforcement policies for vape products like tanks and e-liquids that donâ€™t come pre-filled in podsâ€”the kinds of products primarily sold in dedicated vape shopsâ€”as cartridge-based systems like Juul are more popular among teens. The FDA also cited research that found youth use was much lower for tobacco- and menthol-flavored pods than for flavours like mint, cucumber, and mango.
Despite the FDAâ€™s crackdown focusing on vape pods, the agency said that no e-cigarette products have been approved by the FDA, â€œmeaning that all ENDS products [vapes and e-liquids] currently on the market are considered illegally marketed and are subject to enforcement, at any time, in the FDAâ€™s discretion.â€
Any company that does not comply within 30 days will face action from the FDA, the agency said. And if they werenâ€™t prepared, the writing has certainly been on the wall for some time. In the last two months, Juulâ€”the most popular pod-based system among kids and teensâ€”pulled its fruity flavours from sale in stores in late 2018.
â€œBy prioritising 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 donâ€™t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth,â€ Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. â€œWe will not stand idly by as this crisis among Americaâ€™s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary.â€
This story is developing and will be updated throughout.