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FDA head plans to meet with e-cigarette makers

The agency’s head wants to discuss commitments made last month and why some manufacturers are ‘changing course’

Photo via Twitter
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to meet with the heads of e-cigarette companies to discuss ways to combat the alarming rise in teen vaping.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who has said previously that youth use of e-cigarettes has reached an “epidemic” proportion, said Thursday that he’s contacting e-cigarette makers “to meet to discuss commitments they made last month, and why some are changing course.”

“There’s no reason manufacturers must wait for [FDA] to more forcefully address the epidemic. Yet some already appear to back away from commitments made to FDA and the public,” Gottlieb tweeted.

“The vaping community that supports harm reduction for adults should also focus more of their efforts on select manufacturers that are primarily responsible for the youth epidemic if, like [FDA], they seek to preserve these opportunities as a way to transition adult smokers,” he said.

Last month, the FDA said it planned to roll out new restrictions on flavored e-cigarette products. The new restrictions included a ban on the sale of fruit and candy flavored e-cigarettes at convenience stores and gas stations, as well as stricter age verification rules for online sales of the products.

Efforts to limit youth access

Tobacco giant Altria, Juul Labs, and other e-cigarette makers have all said that they support efforts to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes. Juul said in November that it would no longer sell many of its flavored e-cig pods in retail stores, as these products have been shown to appeal to youth users.

The e-cigarette company also shuttered many of its social media accounts over concerns that teens were spreading and retweeting the company’s messages on platforms like Twitter.

Last week, the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a warning about e-cigarette use among teens, in which he urged aggressive steps to combat the “epidemic” of teen use. Adams specifically singled out Juul in the advisory when he said that it’s critical that strategies to curb tobacco use be applied to products “including USB flash drive-shaped products, such as Juul.”

In response to the advisory, Juul’s Senior Director of Communications Victoria Davis said in a statement that the company was “committed to preventing youth access of JUUL products.”

“We stopped the distribution of certain flavored JUULpods to retail stores as of November 17, 2018, strengthened the age verification of our industry leading site, eliminated our Facebook and Instagram accounts, and are developing new technology to further limit youth access and use,” Davis said.

“We are committed to working with the Surgeon General, FDA, state Attorneys General, local municipalities, and community organizations as a transparent and responsible partner in this effort,” she said.

Earlier this month, Juul Labs announced that it made a $12.8 billion deal with Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and makers of Marlboro cigarettes. The deal brought Juul’s valuation to an estimated $38 billion.

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