With new findings revealing that e-cigarette use has increased from 1.5 million to more than 3.6 million young people within the last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new measures against flavored electronic cigarettes, CNN reports.
FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, announced the proposals in a statement released on Thursday.
“The changes I seek would protect kids by having all flavored ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery systems] products (other than tobacco, mint and menthol flavors or non-flavored products) sold in age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification,” Gottlieb said.
Mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes would not be included in the proposal because those are more popular among adults than children, Gottlieb explained.
However, he did recommend additional bans on regular menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars as well as stricter guidelines on products marketed to youth.
“I’m deeply concerned about the availability of menthol-flavored cigarettes,” Gottlieb said. “I believe these menthol-flavored products represent one of the most common and pernicious routes by which kids initiate on combustible cigarettes. Moreover, I believe the menthol products disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities.”
Data released by the FDA in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that one in five high school students vaped in the past month, more than two thirds used flavored products and more than a quarter vaped at least 20 of the last 30 days.
Such findings, along with growing evidence about the harm of e-cigs, caused health experts to express concern that these products could jeopardize the development of kids’ brains, get them addicted to nicotine early in life and act as a gateway to smoking and use of other drugs.
“We’re committed to utilizing the full range of our regulatory authorities to directly target the places kids are getting these products and address the role flavors and marketing are playing,” Gottlieb said. “We will leave no stone unturned,” he said. “This is one of our highest priorities.”
Click here to learn how e-cigs expose users to toxic metals.