Memo to all you teens out there enjoying that sweet, sweet Juul rush: The FDA is going to try and end your fun. That’s right, the U.S. agency is reportedly about to enforce its most extreme e-cigarette restrictions to date, according to the Washington Post.
Several officials speaking with the Post said that FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is going to announce next week his decision to ban most flavored e-cigarettes in “tens of thousands of convenience stores and gas stations across the country.” The hope is that this will curb the sale of these devices, which have become a favorite among the younger generation.
The FDA has been trying to crack down on vapes for quite a while now. It sent letters to some of the biggest e-cigarette makers–including Juul, Vuse, and Blu–demanding they provide evidence that they aren’t marketing their products to teens. The agency has also been looking into vape functionalities that would try and curb youth use–including Bluetooth capabilities that would stop the devices from working in certain zones (for instance, a school).
This ban, according to the Post, wouldn’t impact menthol and mint-flavored e-cigarettes. But the other popular flavors–which range from banana to crème brûlée–would be off limits in these ubiquitous stores. People would still be able to buy those flavors at vape and tobacco shops, which some consider better at verifying customers’ ages. These new rules would reportedly not apply to the “open-tank” vapes, which, it seems, are not too hip with the young folks.
This development follows a large public backlash to companies like Juul–which many consider to be wooing underage users. For the last few months, the targeted vape companies have tried to clean up their image. Juul, for instance, has made most of its marketing about quitting smoking–as opposed to young hot models puffing on the vape sticks.
Still, teens are taking to the addictive devices. The FDA found that high-schooler e-cigarette use went up by about 77% in 2018; for middle schoolers, it was nearly 50%. So the kids are indeed vaping.
This latest crackdown will likely see a backlash from both sides. Some anti-vape advocates are calling for a complete ban of flavored products. The FDA is attempting to implement a compromise: removing the minor-favored devices from the most easily accessible stores. We’ll see if it has an impact on the growing vape use.
For now, teens will have to take their final puffs of mango-flavored nicotine before it becomes much harder to get.