The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday was reportedly ordered to start work on e-cigarette reviews, with the judge condemning the agency’s postponement.
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The FDA was sued last year by public health groups, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who claimed that the delay in agency oversight helped pave the way for vaping to become popular among teens, The Associated Press reported.
They reportedly also argued that a reversal of long-spanning anti-tobacco work could happen as a result.
U.S. Judge Paul Grimm ruled in favor of the groups, slamming the FDA’s review postponement as being “so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities.”
Grimm gave both sides 30 days to submit plans for moving forward with e-cigarette reviews, according to the outlet.
The FDA gained authority to regulate e-cigarettes in 2016, but it has allowed thousands of products to remain on the market without formal rules or product standards. The agency said that both FDA staff and manufacturers need more time to prepare for regulation.
During the tenure of former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the agency said it would not require e-cigarette manufacturers to submit their products for review until 2022. He adjusted the timeline to 2021 before stepping down from the position last month.
FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum told The Associated Press that the agency is reviewing the court decision and "will continue to tackle the troubling epidemic of e-cigarette use among kids."
The public health groups told the outlet it is the FDA’s duty “to take immediate action to protect our kids” and force companies “to apply to the FDA if they want to keep their products on the market.”
Separately on Wednesday, the North Carolina attorney general said his office filed a lawsuit against e-cigarette company JUUL, accusing them of targeting young customers in their business model and “misrepresenting” the threat of nicotine in their merchandise.
“JUUL targeted young people as customers. As a result, vaping has become an epidemic among minors,” Attorney General Josh Stein said in a news release. “JUUL's business practices are not only reckless, they're illegal.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.