By Melissa Hutsell
On Thursday, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new enforcement regulations that aim to limit the sale of flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (or ENDS).
What That Means:
The move is so far reported as a ban on flavored smoking products. However, the FDA clarifies that rather, health officials are now, “prioritizing enforcement against certain unauthorized flavored e-cigarette products that appeal to kids, including fruit and mint flavors,” according to the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services (HHS). New regulations don’t include open tank devices, which allow users to mix their own flavors.
“The FDA’s enforcement priorities are not a “ban” […],” adds the HHS. “The FDA has already accepted and begun review of several premarket applications for flavored ENDS products through the […] Tobacco Control Act.”
The act grants the FDA the authority to “regulate the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco products to protect the public health, and to reduce tobacco use by minors,” according to the administration.
Companies that wish to market such products must earn premarket review from the FDA. New guidelines fall under this review. The FDA will make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
CNN Health’s Jaqueline Howard, reports that, “To date, no e-cigarette products have been authorized by the FDA.”
Kids are Smoking More
The policy update comes after Congress passed legislation to raise the smoking age from 18, to 21 years old.
Recent data reveals vaping is on the rise among U.S. teenagers. That motivated public health officials to take action as a result.
For instance, results from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), an annual survey conducted by the FDA and CDC, finds more than five million teenagers use the devices. That number has nearly doubled between 2017-2019, according to annual NYTS data.
More specifically, 2019 survey results show more than 27% of high schoolers, and 10.5% of middle schoolers currently use e-cigarettes. Mint, and fruit are among the most popular flavors. And Juul is the most popular brand.
Too Far, or Not Far Enough?
Proponents of the new policy believe it will help curb the youth vaping epidemic. But some fear the FDA isn’t going far enough. Especially considering menthol, and flavors for open tank devices, will still be available.
“Today the Trump administration failed to take the strong action necessary to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” said president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Sally Goza, in a statement. “The guidance could have been a meaningful victory for children’s health and instead is a major missed opportunity that will still leave young people at risk for addiction.”
However, the “ban” doesn’t just disappoint medical experts. Critics of the new policy warn that a crack down could dissuade adults who are using flavored e-cigs to quit smoking cigarettes.