NATO Responds to FDA’s Potential E-Cigarette Sales Restrictions

Association has submitted a proposal to work with the agency on a website for retail-related tobacco regulations
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Photograph: Shutterstock

LAKEVILLE, Minn. -- During an Oct. 19 interview with CNBC about underage youth access to and use of electronic cigarettes, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the FDA would “take steps to reduce access to these products by minors and take steps to reduce their appeal.” He also said the agency will seek restrictions on where flavored cartridge-type e-cigarette products can be sold.

“I think we are looking at what can be sold in brick-and-mortar stores and whether or not the flavors should be sold in regular stores … truckstops or gas stations, or whether if there are flavored products in the market, they should be confined to adult-only vaping shops, which generally do a better job of checking ID. A lot of the sales that we’ve seen going to minors are actually happening in the brick-and-mortar stores, the convenience stores.”

In response to this interview, NATO has submitted a letter to Gottlieb that makes the following points:

  1. During this past summer, 96.7% of the retailers passed FDA-sponsored compliance checks by not selling an e-cigarette to an underage youth.
  2. Retailers undertake significant efforts to train their employees how to not sell tobacco products to underage youth.
  3. A prohibition on the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes in convenience stores is unfair and unnecessary.
  4. The FDA needs to address the problem of adults, also known as social sources, who legally buy and then provide tobacco products to minors. The 2016 FDA Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study found that up to 89% of underage youth relied on social sources to obtain an e-cigarette product.
  5. Banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores could result in adult customers purchasing and using other tobacco products that may be more harmful than electronic cigarettes.

In addition, NATO has submitted to the FDA a proposal to work with the agency to create a special website for retail-related FDA tobacco regulations. This proposal would involve collaboration between the agency and NATO to build a new online resource website for retailers so they can easily find information on how to comply with federal tobacco regulations.


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