Taking on epidemic levels of teen e-cigarette use, the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce new restrictions on the sale of e-cigarette products an agency official confirmed Thursday.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is expected to announce a ban on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations as early as next week. The agency will impose age-verification requirements for online sales. Flavored e-cigarette products would be available in vape and tobacco shops.
Gottlieb is also expected to propose a ban on menthol in regular cigarettes.
The new restrictions were first reported by the Washington Post.
The convenience store ban on flavored e-cigarette sales would not include menthol. Because the FDA will continue to allow the sale of menthol in regular cigarettes, the agency doesn’t want to give cigarettes an advantage over e-cigarettes.
E-cigarette makers argue the devices help adult smokers give up cigarettes – potentially saving them from related illnesses – by giving a nicotine fix without the smoke and smell of combustible cigarettes. The scientific consensus is still out on the long-term health effects of vaping.
About 6.9 million adults used e-cigarettes in 2017, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday.
But the FDA says it didn’t foresee the “epidemic” of youth e-cigarette use. More than 2 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2017, the FDA said, and e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product by youth.
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The FDA announced in September it would investigate major e-cigarette makers Juul, MarkTen, Vuse, Blu and Logic, including reviews of marketing and sales practices. It also said it cracked down on 1,300 retailers who illegally sold e-cigarettes to minors.
Juul declined to comment on the new restrictions.
The FDA recently launched a massive education campaign aimed at the nearly 10.7 million teens at risk for e-cigarette use, taking the message that vaping is dangerous into high school bathrooms and social media feeds.
“E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among teens,” Gottlieb said in September. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”
CNN’s Sandee LaMotte contributed to this report.