Convenience stores and other retailers would be barred from selling most flavored e-cigarettes unless minors are prohibited from entering or the products are put in a separate, age-restricted section, according to new guidance issued Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration.
The proposal – which was foreshadowed last year and is expected to be finalized in the coming months – is the most significant step to date in Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s quest to reduce vaping among the nation’s youth. It also comes before he leaves the agency in April.
“Our pledge to reduce youth use of e-cigarettes is deeply rooted and has broad support within the Trump Administration. Nobody wants to see children becoming addicted to nicotine,” Gottlieb wrote in a statement. “We’ll continue to put the full scope of our regulatory tools against this mounting public health crisis.”
Under the draft guidance, gas stations and convenience stores that allow minors would be barred from selling e-cigs in flavors other than mint, menthol and tobacco. Sales of those products would be allowed if operators create special age-restricted sections or bar individuals under the age of 18 completely.
E-cigarette companies like closely held Juul, in which tobacco company Altria recently bought a 35 percent stake, will also be required by August 2021 to submit their products to the FDA for review.
Meanwhile, the agency is expanding its enforcement of flavored cigars and said it intends to move forward with a proposal to ban the products.
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Wednesday’s draft guidance comes amid a wide-ranging push to crack down on youth tobacco use. Gottlieb previously called out retailers like Walgreens for illegally selling smoking products to minors. He has also indicated the FDA could move to ban menthol cigarettes.
The Trump administration on Tuesday named National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless as acting FDA commissioner. In a statement, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there would be “no let-up” in the agency’s efforts to address youth use of e-cigs.