FDA Threatens to Pull E-Cigs From Stores

Gottlieb ties potential action to future rates of vaping among minors
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON -- In his most dramatic statement yet, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggested that the agency may pull the entire e-cigarette and vaping category from store shelves if youth smoking rates fail to drop over the next year, according to The Hill.

“If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of the dramatic rise in 2018, the entire category will face an existential threat,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb at a hearing at the agency's headquarters.

Gottlieb pointed to 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey data saying that youth vaping rates had nearly doubled over the past year, with use among high school students jumping 78% and increasing 48% among middle school students. About 1.5 million young people took up vaping from 2017 to 2018, according to the study.

Referring to the historic decline in smoking over the past several years, Gottlieb said that progress toward cutting smoking rates is “being undercut, even eclipsed” by the rise in youth vaping. Addressing drug therapies for young smokers, Gottlieb said that talking about young people needing such nicotine-addiction therapies a few years ago “would have been incredible to me.”

Gottlieb cited San Francisco-based Juul Labs as having one of the most popular brands of e-cigarettes among young people.

“Underage use of Juul and any other vaping products is completely unacceptable to us and is directly opposed to our mission of eliminating cigarettes by offering existing adult smokers a true alternative to combustible cigarettes,” a Juul spokesperson said to The Hill.

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