FDA seeking to restrict access to flavored e-cigarettes, ban menthol

FDA seeks to ban menthol cigarettes and crack down on flavored vapes

A customer buys a carton of menthol cigarettes at a store in Minneapolis in 2005

"The menthol serves to mask some of the unattractive features of smoking that might otherwise discourage a child from smoking", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. To date, 3.6 million students are now vaping.

The US Food and Drug Administration wants people to cool it with the menthol cigarettes.

"From 2017 to 2018, there was a 78 percent increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students", he said.

"This reflects a careful balancing of public health considerations", Gottlieb said, citing data that shows mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarette products "are more popular with adults than with kids".

The agency has faced mounting pressure to act on e-cigarettes amid their surging popularity among USA teenagers in recent years.

But Koval remains concerned about flavored e-cigarettes.

The proposed rules aim to restrict sales of all flavored vaping cartridges - other than tobacco, mint and menthol - to sales at "age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification", said an FDA statement.

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The primary concern most experts have about youth e-cigarette use is that most of these products contain nicotine, which is addictive, says Jonathan Klein, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of pediatrics at the University of IL at Chicago. But many versions contain potentially addictive nicotine, and health officials believe they set kids who try them on a path toward regular cigarettes.

E-cigarettes were created to give adult smokers a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but the products have become popular among kids and teenagers.

The restrictions are aimed mainly at reducing smoking in kids: About half of teens who smoke cigarettes choose menthols, and flavored e-cigarettes have been blamed for a recent increase in teen vaping rates.

The FDA also plans to seek a ban on menthol cigarettes, a longtime goal of public health advocates, as well as flavored cigars. But some say adult smokers switching to e-cigarettes have also helped drive down the rate in recent years.

The e-cigarette ban comes just two days after Juul, the market's leading e-cigarette company and a favorite brand among teenagers, announced that it would voluntarily stop selling most flavored products in retail stores and add additional age-restriction measures online to prevent people under 21 from buying its products.

Imperial, BAT and Altria said the ban on menthols or flavored cigars was not supported by science and evidence. However, if it goes through, the ban could make a significant dent in overall sales as menthol cigarettes account for about 35 percent of all sales in the U.S. Major tobacco companies, including Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Altria did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment on the ban.

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