Following reports this week that such a move was imminent, the Food and Drug Administration is bringing the hammer down on your beloved, fruity pre-filled e-cigarettes capsules in an attempt to curb the rise of youth vaping in the U.S.
The agency said Thursday that it has finalized an enforcement policy to bar the manufacturer, distribution, and sale of any pod-based e-cig flavors other than menthol or tobacco—meaning mint will also hit the regulatory chopping block. The flavor ban will specifically target cartridge-based vaping products as well as all other electronic nicotine delivery systems that are targeted to minors or “for which the manufacturer has failed to take (or is failing to take) adequate measures to prevent minors’ access.”
As the Wall Street Journal previously reported would likely be the case, the agency said it won’t prioritize enforcement policies for vape products like tanks and e-liquids that don’t come pre-filled in pods—the kinds of products primarily sold in dedicated vape shops—as cartridge-based systems like Juul are more popular among teens. The FDA also cited research that found youth use was much lower for tobacco- and menthol-flavored pods than for flavors like mint, cucumber, and mango.
Despite the FDA’s crackdown focusing on vape pods, the agency said that no e-cigarette products have been approved by the FDA, “meaning that all ENDS products [vapes and e-liquids] currently on the market are considered illegally marketed and are subject to enforcement, at any time, in the FDA’s discretion.”
Any company that does not comply within 30 days will face action from the FDA, the agency said. And if they weren’t prepared, the writing has certainly been on the wall for some time. In the last two months, Juul—the most popular pod-based system among kids and teens—pulled its fruity flavors from its site in October before yanking its mint flavor in November. The company previously pulled its fruity flavors from sale in stores in late 2018.
“By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as a potential off-ramp for adults using combustible tobacco while ensuring these products don’t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary.”
This story is developing and will be updated throughout.