WASHINGTON – In the latest sign that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has electronic cigarettes in its crosshairs, the agency’s commissioner said it is considering banning online sales of the products, CNBC reported.
At a breakfast vaping panel hosted by Axios in Washington, D.C., FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said banning online sales is “on the table” and that the agency is “very clearly looking at it.”
While Gottlieb’s comments sounded foreboding and potentially game-changing for retail, at least one tobacco-industry source, who spoke to CSP Daily News on condition of anonymity, questioned whether the agency had the authority to actually execute such a ban.
Gottlieb’s comments came shortly after the FDA’s most recent crackdown on manufacturers and retailers selling products with flavors that the agency said appeal to youth, specifically flavors with candy or dessert themes.
The FDA’s recent moves, announced Sept. 12, involved the issuance of 1,300 warning letters to retailers that the agency’s undercover operations identified as selling tobacco products to minors. In addition, the FDA reached out to several manufacturers, asking for information on how they would keep e-cigarettes from young people.
Overall U.S. sales of e-cigarettes are expected to hit $3.6 billion in 2018, up from $2.9 billion in 2017, according to statista.com.
E-cigarettes are only a fraction of nicotine sales through all retail channels, making up 0.7% through all retail channels for the 52 weeks ending June 30, 2018, vs. the same period in 2017, according to Management Science Associates (MSA), Pittsburgh; however, it’s the tobacco subcategory that grew the most at 31.7% during that same time period. C-stores make up a bulk of all nicotine volume at 71% in that same year-over-year time frame, MSA officials said.