The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it is conducting a nationwide, undercover “blitz” to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes – particularly the hugely popular Juul products – to children and teenagers by regular and online retailers.
The effort started April 6 and will continue to the end of the month. The agency said it already has uncovered dozens of violations of the law and issues 40 warning letters.
“Let me be clear to retailers,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “This blitz, and resulting actions, should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the sale of any tobacco products to youth.”
Juul e-cigarettes resemble a USB flash drive but contain high levels of nicotine. Their emissions can be virtually invisible, which has made it difficult for teachers and school officials to spot and prevent use of the product.
The FDA also has asked JUUL Labs, the e-cigarette’s manufacturer, for information that might indicate why the product is so appealing to young people.
Gottlieb said that while much of the focus is on the Juul e-cig, other brands such as myblu and KandyPens have similar characteristics.
The FDA announcement comes less than a week after major health organizations, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Truth Initiative, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association, urged Gottlieb to take immediate action “to protect the nation’s young people, and the public health, from the dramatic rise in teen usage of Juul electronic cigarettes.”
The groups’ letter noted that Juul e-cigarettes are sleek, high tech and easy to hide, with flavors such as mango, creme brulee and cool mint.
Gottlieb said the agency plans to issue additional letters to “manufacturers of products that raise similar concerns about youth use. If these companies, including JUUL, don’t comply with our requests, they will be in violation of the law and subject to enforcement.”
He said that JUUL Labs has contacted the FDA to discuss concerns about youth use of its product. At the FDA’s request, eBay already has removed information about Juul products from its website, Gottlieb noted.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Laurie McGinley