FDA Moves to End 'Epidemic' of Teen Vaping

Illustration for article titled FDA Moves to End 'Epidemic' of Teen Vaping
Photo: Nam Y. Huh (AP)

In what the agency called an “undercover blitz,” the FDA has taken broad steps to penalize retailers for contributing to teen use of e-cigarettes—and announced today a plan that may have major implications for vape manufacturers.


Over 1,300 warning letters were sent to online and brick-and-mortar stores over the course of the summer—some of which resulted in substantial fines—for selling e-cigarette products to underage consumers. According to the Food and Drug Administration, this represents “the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history.” A smaller volume of warnings was sent out earlier in the year, as the agency became aware of the public health concerns surrounding teen use of nicotine delivery devices like Juul and Logic. In an open letter today, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb describes the current usage levels among minors in stark terms. “We didn’t predict what I now believe is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers,” he wrote.

Although the bulk of enforcement has been against sellers themselves, the FDA also sent letters to the top five e-cigarette makers, asking them to address their popularity with underage consumers or risk removal of “some or all of their flavored products.”

From the letter sent to Juul Labs:

Illustration for article titled FDA Moves to End 'Epidemic' of Teen Vaping

In some studies, vaping has been shown to be carcinogenic and largely ineffective for its intended purpose of helping traditional smokers quit. Gottlieb’s actions against vape sellers and manufacturers dovetail with his wider public health crusade that has also included proposals to remove nicotine from cigarettes.

We’ve reached out to the FDA for any additional comments or information and will update if we hear back.


Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/



Damn it, I can’t help it that some people choose to be irresponsible. They’re going to screw this up for everybody.

I smoked cigarettes for twenty-three years, and it was killing me. You could hear the awful sounds coming from my chest as I breathed. I had tried and tried to stop, knowing that my life quite literally depended on it— and still couldn’t do it. The level of misery I felt when I tried to quit was far beyond what I could tolerate. I had to miserably resign myself to the fact that I would either be slowly killing myself with the cigarettes or living a pointless existence of constant torment without them. Wooo, great choices. And that person you know who quit smoking one day and never felt a twinge of withdrawal? I don’t care. It’s not like that for all of us, especially those daling with pre-existing mental illness. Brain chemistry is a thing, yo.

When my husband randomly suggested that we should try vaping one day, I was agreeable. Hell, it might even let me smoke a little less (though I doubted it). I had tried smaller “cigalike” versions before and enjoyed them, but they in no way filled the need for tobacco. Once we got set up with bigger, more powerful vape mods, though, everything was different. That very day, I found myself smoking significantly less. Vape tasted better and better, and cigarettes worse and worse. Two days later, I couldn’t stand the cigarettes anymore compared to the vape. And I wasn’t suffering! Somehow, I was fine. It felt like a miracle!

That was over a year ago now. I haven’t touched a cigarette since. I still vape regularly. My doctor was astonished to find that my lungs now sound completely clear, a major contrast to the grotesque rattly, bubbly sounds that I had gotten used to hearing from within myself. I can run up the stairs to my apartment, even carrying the groceries— when a year ago, that was an impossible dream. I no longer cough up mucus every minute or so. I can sing again, long phrases that had been out of my reach for years. All of these magical changes just kept happening to my body, and it didn’t even feel like a great effort on my part.

Vaping saved my life. My personal experience doesn’t matter a hill of beans to the “experts,” but it sure as hell matters to me. If people end up screwing with the laws and making it more difficult to get started with a good vape, others like me will never get the chance. And ffs, adults like pleasant flavors too. I really don’t want my grape-flavored e-juice taken off the market because someone decided that fruit flavors are only for children. I now have the knowledge needed to make my own e-juices if it came down to it, but I’d resent every second of it. If people could just be cool....