FDA to ban flavored e-cigs to help curb 'epidemic'

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products throughout the U.S. as officials have become increasingly alarmed with its draw to minors.

Preliminary government data shows e-cigarette sales have risen 77 percent among high schoolers and 50 percent among middle schoolers in 2018, which means that 3.5 million minors have been vaping throughout 2018.

As soon as next week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is poised to announce bans on sales of most flavored e-cigarettes at tens of thousands of convenience stores and gas stations across the country, according to The Washington Post, in an attempt to curb the epidemic from growing.

Additionally, the agency is expected to also impose stricter rules such as age-verification for online sales.

But Gottlieb isn’t going to stop there. He also wants to ban menthol in regular cigarettes.

The news isn’t surprising as the FDA announced in September that it has issued more than 1,300 warning letters to retailers who were illegally selling JUUL, one of the most popular e-cigarette brands on the market today, as well as other e-cigarette products.

”We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” Gottlieb said in a statement last month.

JUUL, which has endured much of the blame for the rise in e-cigarette use by youths, declined to comment on the ban, but did say last month that it “wants to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people.”

"Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes. Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch. By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission,” JUUL said.