On April 24 the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a press statement, as part of the Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan initiative, to “stop youth use of, and access to, JUUL and other e-cigarettes”. Not only does the statement outline preventative measures relating to the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, it also provides details of the FDA request for information recently issued to JUUL Labs.
The official press statement begins by citing 40 retailers for violations related to youth sales of JUUL vaping products and announces a new ‘blitz’ of retail establishments specifically targeting the sale of vaping products to minors.
Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner makes it clear that the FDA will “hold retailers accountable for continued violations” and this “should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the sale of any tobacco products to youth”.
The statement also confirms this isn’t the first time action has been taken against retailers, with 908,280 individual inspections and 70,350 warning letters issued to retailers by the FDA to date.
It’s clear the FDA take underage vaping seriously, but how bad is it exactly?
A study by the U.S Surgeon General back in 2016, reported a massive 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015! A further study was conducted (the National Youth Tobacco Survey) and the results confirmed that 1.7 million students had used e-cigarette products within the previous 30 day period.
“We need to examine all the available information to understand why kids are finding these products so appealing – and address it” wrote Gottlieb.
The FDA press release continues, “That’s why today, the FDA also sent an official request for information directly to JUUL Labs, requiring the company to submit important documents to better understand the reportedly high rates of youth use and particular youth appeal of these products”.
The letter to JUUL Labs included requests for documents related to product marketing, research on health effects and whether the design features, ingredients or specifications appeal to certain age groups.
Gottlieb comments further that “We don’t fully understand why these products are so popular among youth. But it’s imperative that we figure it out, and fast”.
The basis of this request would seem to be increasing reports of the JUUL vaping device sweeping across American Schools and gaining popularity among the teenage market. The letter of request also explains the “FDA is requesting these documents based on growing concern about the popularity of JUUL products among youth. JUUL product use appears to be common in middle and high schools based on widespread media reporting”. Also cited were “research studies that have raised concerns, and social media evidence of youth use”.
On 25 April JUUL Labs responded to confirm they will take additional decisive action, as part of a $30 million initiative, to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people.
The response confirmed that JUUL Labs will work closely with Tom Miller, the Iowa Attorney General, to “develop a transparent and effective framework for independent research focused on the scientific and societal implications of vapor products”.
JUUL Labs Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Burns, also commented “Our company’s mission is to eliminate cigarettes and help the more than one billion smokers worldwide switch to a better alternative”. Burns also stated that “at the same time, we are committed to deterring young people, as well as adults who do not currently smoke, using our products. We cannot be more emphatic on this point: No young person or non-nicotine user should ever try JUUL”
JUUL Labs have until 19 June to provide the FDA with the information required.
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Featured image credit: Vaping360