FDA inspectors seized more than 1,000 pages of documents at e-cigarette maker Juul Labs’ headquarters in San Francisco last week, part of the agency’s battle against an epidemic of youth vaping.
The surprise inspection sought information on sales and marketing practices of the company’s devices, which have become wildly popular among underage users. The Food and Drug Administration had requested similar information from Juul in April.
“Across this category, we are committed to taking all necessary actions, such as inspections and advancing new policies, to prevent a new generation of kids from becoming addicted to tobacco products,” the FDA said in a statement on Tuesday.
Federal regulators are stepping up scrutiny of e-cigarettes amid an alarming increase in the rate of youth use of the devices. The FDA confirmed that youth vaping jumped 75 percent in the past year as teens are increasingly drawn to Juul, a pocket-sized device that resembles a thumb drive, and other products that offer nicotine cartridges with candy and fruit flavors. In 2017, more than 2 million middle- and high-school students used e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are committed to preventing underage use, and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep Juul out of the hands of young people,” Juul Labs Chief Executive Officer Kevin Burns said in a statement.
Sales of Juul e-cigarettes grew more than sevenfold in a year to total 16.2 million in 2017, the CDC wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday. Juul accounted for nearly 1 in 3 e-cigarette sales in the U.S. in December, giving it the largest market share. Juul and other products like it have been viewed as potential tools to help adult smokers quit traditional cigarettes.
CDC’s report comes as the FDA is considering banning sales of flavored e-cigarettes given the substantial rise in youth vaping. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said last month the move was aimed largely at Juul Labs.
(c) 2018, Bloomberg · Anna Edney