PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In a historic move, the FDA announced a major crackdown about selling e-cigarettes to minors.
The FDA says vaping has become a dangerous epidemic among teenagers, driven mainly by the popular flavored products. On Wednesday, the agency has ordered manufacturers to reverse the trend or face dire consequences.
It’s estimated more than 2 million middle and high schoolers used e-cigarettes last year.
“I now have good reason to believe that it’s reached nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth,” states FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
The agency sent out more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers and online shops caught selling to minors in an undercover sting from June to August.
“They include Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, Blu e-cigs, and Logic,” Gottlieb explains.
Flavored vaping juices and other nicotine-containing products packaged like cookies and juice boxes are luring youngsters who see the trend as being harmless.
But doctors say the adolescent brain that’s still developing is especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction and potentially toxic chemicals found in e-cigarettes.
“They treated these issues like a public relations challenge rather than seriously considering their legal obligations, the public health mandate, and the existential threat to these products,” Gottlieb says.
If the industry doesn’t step up to curb the problem, the FDA may consider banning flavored nicotine.