Historic enforcement actions related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children were announced Wednesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history, the agency issued more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover blitz of brick-and-mortar and online stores this summer.
“We’re committed to the comprehensive approach to address addiction to nicotine that we announced last year,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “But at the same time, we see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger.”
The agency vows to “crack down on retail sales of e-cigarettes to minors” and revisit policies related to manufacturers of certain flavored e-cigarettes.
“I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products,” Gottlieb added. “While we remain committed to advancing policies that promote the potential of e-cigarettes to help adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes, that work can’t come at the expense of kids. We cannot allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine.”
JUUL Labs CEO Kevin Burns released the following statement, “JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request. We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people.
“Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes. Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch. By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission.”
The FDA on Wednesday also issued 12 warning letters to other online retailers that sell e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies.
Over the past several years, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product by youth, according to the FDA.