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Federal regulators may be forced to enact a ban on electronic cigarettes, if manufacturers do not stop marketing the products to teens and take significant steps to reduce the teen vaping epidemic in the United States.
At a public hearing on teen vaping late last week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb indicated that a full ban on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) may be necessary to protect the nations youth. The statement comes amid concerns about the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens, and a failure of manufacturers and retailers to substantially change how the devices are marketed.
Gottlieb made the comments at a hearing in Silver Spring, Maryland, which focused primarily on actions the FDA could take to help teens who are addicted to vaping. However, experts and regulators said there is a lack of evidence on how to best treat teens who are already addicted to e-cigarettes.
E-cigarette use spiked to 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students over the last year, making it the most popular form of tobacco use among the nation’s teens.
Recently the Surgeon General issued a safety advisory warning the public about the long-term health risks and addiction teens face by taking up the habit.
Studies have also shown recently that teen use of e-cigarettes quadruples their risk of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes later in life. Teenagers also face other health risks related to toxic chemical exposure and respiratory side effects.
More than 1.5 million teens began vaping from 2017 to 2018; a statistic that is startling for many regulators.
The FDA proposed restrictions on e-cigarettes last year, yet failed to include a full ban on flavored vaping products, which are widely believed to entice teens to try the products.
For several months the agency has warned that if e-cigarette companies don’t end advertising campaigns aimed at underage users, the agency could enact a full ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products.
The FDA has the authority to ban e-cigarette sales and require vaping manufacturers to obtain formal approval through the FDA, but has not done so.
If progress isn’t made, Gottlieb warned, the entire category of e-cigarettes and vaping could be removed from store shelves. The agency wants to see a decrease in teen vaping rates over the next year.