The flavored e-cigarette ban that’s loomed for months will finally go into effect in 30 days in an effort to curb skyrocketing use among kids, the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.
The ban, first announced by President Donald Trump in September, will temporarily ban “cartridge-based” nicotine vaporizers with fruit and mint flavors while the products are reviewed by the FDA, the agency announced.
“Under this policy, companies that do not cease manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes (other than tobacco or menthol) within 30 days risk FDA enforcement actions,” the release stated.
The ban will prohibit fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes that are popular with high school and middle school students. But menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed to remain on the market.
The flavor ban will also entirely exempt large, tank-based vaping devices, which are primarily sold in vape shops that cater to adult smokers.
The move comes on the heels of a nationwide vaping crisis and the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey that found more than 5 million kids in middle and high school have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days with at least 1 million of them claiming to be daily users, the FDA said.
The majority of the survey’s respondents said cartridge-based products, which typically come in the form of a small pod that holds liquid like the uber-popular Juul vaporizer, are their vape of choice, the agency said.
“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
“By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as a potential off-ramp for adults using combustible tobacco while ensuring these products don’t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth.”
The FDA said they’ll prioritize enforcement against flavored, cartridge based nicotine vaporizers, manufacturers that have failed to take “adequate measures to prevent minors’ access” and any nicotine vape product that’s “targeted to minors or likely to promote use” by minors.
The agency cautioned the announcement by saying the new “enforcement priorities are not a ‘ban’ on flavored or cartridge-based” vapes, but more so an opportunity for them to review the products to ensure they are safe for the public and will no longer easily get into the hands of children.
“The FDA has already accepted and begun review of several premarket applications for flavored [Electronic Nicotine Delivery System] products through the pathway that Congress established in the Tobacco Control Act. Manufacturers that wish to market any ENDS product – including flavored e-cigarettes or e-liquids – are required by law to submit an application to the FDA that demonstrates that the product meets the applicable standard in the law,” the FDA said.
None of the e-cigarette products on the market have ever been tested by the FDA because they didn’t gain the authority to regulate e-cigarettes until August 2016.
Under President Barack Obama, enforcement was delayed with the hope traditional smokers could use e-cigs to kick their tobacco habit with what seemed like a less-harmful means of nicotine delivery, Azar previously explained.
By the time the FDA got involved, the market was already flooded with grandfathered-in options, none of which had seen federal oversight or testing.
Companies that want to sell flavored nicotine vaporizers will need to submit a pre-market application to the FDA by May 12, 2020.