Under Pressure, FDA Cracks Down On Sale Of E-Cigs To Teens

The FDA is cracking down on the discrete Juul e-cigs favored by teenagers to vape in class

The company said Wednesday it will "actively support" state and federal initiatives to raise the minimum age to at least 21 to purchase tobacco products.

The company behind a trendy electronic cigarette that's attracted federal scrutiny because of its appeal to minors says it will invest $30 million over the next three years to help to combat underage use of its products.

Scott Ballin, past chairman of the anti-smoking alliance Coalition of Science or Health, called the Juul steps "very positive and can help pave the way for better cooperation and civil engagement between all stakeholders, including the FDA, tobacco control organizations, policy makers and manufacturers". "We are already seeing success in our efforts to enable adult smokers to transition away from cigarettes and believe our products have the potential over the long-term to contribute meaningfully to public health in the USA and around the world".

The health department says a recent survey of Eau Claire County schools shows there's been an increase in e-cigarette use among teenagers and while they're still determining what that increase looks like, they says it's concerning for obvious health reasons.

Juul said its initiative will include: expanding enforcement of its "secret shopper" program at retail and online outlets of its products; calling on social media platforms to remove content showing youth consumption of Juul; and enhancing efforts to promote educational material of its products at retail outlets.

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"Even though Juul on their website talks about how they try really, really hard to only sell to adults, we all know that the young folks are getting this".

"This blitz, and resulting actions, should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the sale of any tobacco products to youth", Gottlieb said. However, he said he took action immediately to prevent any further underage sales. "JUUL was founded by former smokers.with the goal of improving the lives of the one billion adults smokers". A Juul "starter kit" can be ordered online for $49.99. And Gottlieb said that while much of the focus is on that e-cig, other brands, including myblu and KandyPens, have similar characteristics.

Democratic senators in Congress and a coalition of anti-tobacco advocacy groups have prodded the FDA to tighten marketing standards for Juul.

Juul is clearly positioning its e-cigarettes as harm-reducing alternatives for grownups who smoke, which the FDA itself has recognized as a potential boon for public health.

The FDA has asked Juul Labs, the e-cigarette's manufacturer, for information that might indicate why its product is so appealing to young people.

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The FDA noted that it also has contacted eBay about several listings for JUUL products on its website, and "we're thankful for eBay's swift action to remove the listings and voluntarily implement new measures to prevent new listings from being posted to the web retailer's site".

The FDA announced that it had been conducting a large, undercover operation on the sale of JUUL products to minors at stores and online. "This isn't the only product that we're looking at, and this isn't the only action we're going to be taking to target youth access to tobacco products, and e-cigarettes, in particular", Gottlieb said in an interview.

"But we've got to step in to protect our kids", he said.

"Juul has become a teen status symbol and a growing problem in US schools".

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