September 12, 2018

The "epidemic" of minors smoking flavored e-cigarettes has gotten so bad, the FDA is threatening to snuff out the whole industry.

Juul and similar vape manufacturers have received FDA warning letters and fines because their flavored options attract underage buyers, but nothing has changed, the agency said in a Wednesday press release. So the FDA is giving these companies 60 days to explain how they'll tackle the problem. If they do nothing, the FDA might strip their flavored products from the market entirely.

Tobacco use among middle- and high-school students is generally decreasing, but more than 2 million minors still used e-cigarettes in 2017, FDA data shows. About a third of vaping minors surveyed said the flavors attracted them to e-cigs. These products are generally safer than traditional cigarettes, and the FDA says it's still aiming to direct adult smokers to vape options. But the "kid-friendly marketing" of flavored vapes is leading minors to start smoking way too early, the FDA said in its release.

Over the summer, the FDA embarked on a "nationwide, undercover blitz" to tackle the issue, serving up warnings and fines to retailers exposed in the raids Wednesday. The agency is also cracking down further on Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, blue e-cigs, and Logic — five manufacturers that the FDA says make up a "vast majority of the products illegally sold to minors." Juul and its competitors have 60 days to plan "how they will address the widespread youth access and use of their products," the FDA said Wednesday. If their proposals fall short, the FDA might force these brands to pull their flavors from shelves until they shape up. Kathryn Krawczyk

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