FDA to regulate flavored e-cigarettes after spike in use

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans on September 11 to regulate flavored electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in response to an alarming spike in use by children.

The FDA will finalize new guidelines to pull flavored e-cigarette products from the market until manufacturers secure approval from the agency, said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a press conference. He did not announce a time frame for the guidelines, which could take weeks to develop.

The guidelines are in response to a surge in the use of e-cigarettes by middle and high school students. These youth are drawn to flavored e-cigarette products such as mint, menthol, bubblegum, and mango, Azar noted.

"We have decided that we simply can't have those products in the marketplace," he said. "Even with 8,000 enforcement actions the FDA has conducted, even with warning letters, these products are still getting to kids, and we cannot let a whole generation get addicted to mint, menthol, and other flavors.

The new rule will not apply to tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, which are not popular among children, Azar said. However, that could change in the future.

"We want the tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes to remain available for adults who may be using e-cigarettes to be off of combustible tobacco," he said. "But if we find that children start surging into tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, or if we find marketing practices that target children and try to drive the market share into tobacco-flavored products, we'll engage in enforcement actions there also."

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