Juul has been accused of trying to attract minor smokers with his tastes. (Reuters: Martinne Geller)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes while grappling with an epidemic of youthful electronic cigarette use that threatens to create a new generation of nicotine addicts, says the head of the agency.
In a speech at the FDA headquarters on Wednesday (local time), Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency would revisit a policy that extended dates for some flavored e-cigarettes producers to get FDA approval before selling their products.
This could lead to the removal of some of the leading brands of flavored electronic cigarettes, including popular products made by Juul Labs Inc., if they do not solve the problem with the agency's satisfaction.
"We see clear signs that young people use electronic cigarettes have reached epidemic proportions," said Gottlieb.
Producers offer and market aromas of electronic cigarettes that clearly appeal to minors, including candy and chewing gum flavors. The FDA said that more than 2 million students aged 11 to 18 used e-cigarettes in 2017.
The FDA is giving the five best-selling brands of electronic cigarettes – Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blue and Logic – 60 days to provide plans to reduce sales to minors
. Juul Labs holds about 72% of the US e-cigarette sales market, according to Wells Fargo. "Juuling", together with "vaping", has become a common term for the use of electronic cigarettes by teenagers on social media and in high schools in the United States.
Investors from Juul's competitors seemed to welcome the FDA's announcement.
British American Tobacco, which owns the Vuse brand, has gained almost 6%, while shares in the Blu-based cigarette maker Imperial Brands PLC have increased by over 3%.
The shares of the traditional cigarette maker Altria Group, which also owns the MarkTen brand, have increased by over 6%, while Philip Morris International shares have increased by 3%.
The Wells Fargo analyst, Bonnie Herzog, in a research note, Juul seems "more at risk" from the crackdown due to his "strong appeal to young people and FDA comments on flavors".
He said that Altria could be well positioned because it had a long history of accessing its products to young people and had "limited / mature flavor profiles compared to Juul".
Flavors included "fruit medley" and "creme brulee"
The flavors of MarkTen, for example, include "menthol", "classic" and "summer mix", while Juul's flavors include "fruit medley "and" creme brulee ", recently abbreviated as" fruit "and" creme ".
Gottlieb announced a series of steps that the agency intends to undertake as part of a wider crackdown. on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to minors. The agency issued 12 warning letters for companies that have misleading e-liquid marketing labels.
"We can not allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine," he said.
Juul Labs said it would work with the FDA and is committed to preventing the use of a minor product. But spokeswoman Victoria Davis said that "the appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers to change."
FDA moves as it tries to balance its approach to electronic cigarettes, which can be used to wean smokers for life with less harmful nicotine products, but they also risk dragging a new generation to nicotine addiction .
"As we continue to strive to promote policies that promote the potential of electronic cigarettes to help adult smokers move from combustible cigarettes, this work can not be spent by children," said Gottlieb.
Other companies also said they would work with the FDA on youth prevention efforts.
"Today we are delighted by the FDA and we look forward to sharing our views on how to prevent and reduce the use of young people, an issue we have been focusing on for decades" Altria spokesperson George Parman said in a statement.
The Imperial Brands Fontem Ventures unit said it would work to further reinforce youth access prevention policies and procedures.
RJ Reynolds Vapor of the American American said he would respect the FDA's request, adding that "youth tobacco prevention is a priority for our societies".
Logic Technology Development, owned by Japan Tobacco Inc, said it would demonstrate to the FDA "that Logica markets its products only for adults".
As part of its wider enforcement efforts, the FDA said it had released more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold electronic cigarette products to. Minor
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