The excessive leap of young people who smoke electronic cigarettes pushed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (FDA) to tighten sales rules. Among the measures proposed this Thursday to prevent the trend from escalating further is the ban on the sale of electronic cigars except those with mint flavor in establishments suitable for children under 18 years of age such as gas stations or convenience stores.
In sales made over the Internet, it will have to verify that the buyer is of legal age. In addition, the FDA wants to prevent the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored tobaccos, an effort by the U.S. health system that, for the time being, has not been successful.
he FDA’s head, Scott Gottlieb, said the measures are designed to prevent young people from entering the world of electronic cigarettes because they can drift into traditional tobacco. “I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through electronic cigarettes,” Gottlieb said in announcing the package.
In the senior year alone, high school students who use vaporizers increased by 78 percent and middle school students (11-13 years) by 48 percent, according to the National Tobacco Survey. This translates into a total of 3.6 million teenagers.
The vaporizer company Juul, which controls 70% of the market, had committed to remove its flavored products from stores suitable for minors. The announcement came after the FDA threatened Juul and another manufacturer in September to ban them if they did not take steps to prevent use by minors. Such is the company’s level of popularity among young people that they use the term “juuling” as a synonym for vapear.
The agency’s action plan argues that the restrictions do not affect electronic mint and menthol cigarettes because polls reveal that these flavors are more popular among adult users than among teenagers.
A section of the proposal clarifies that stores that allow children under the age of 18 to enter may have a separate section, restricted by age, to sell flavor products. “Does this mean a simple curtain with a sign like we used to see at the entrance to the pornography section of video stores?” Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, criticized in The New York Times.
Electronic cigarettes have become a topic of debate in the public health community. Some focus on the potential benefit of switching lifetime smokers to less harmful nicotine products, while others fear it will create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
At the same time, the long-term health consequences are unknown. As for traditional tobacco, consumption has dropped over the past five decades from 42% to 14%, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The pre-announcement of the proposals knocked down the tobacco companies’ stock this week. The package will now be subject to a public consultation period until June of next year, before they take effect.