FDA announces action against flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes
In order to curb the epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes and the popularity of certain products among children, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued enforcementThe guidance alerts companies that manufacture, distribute, and sell unauthorized flavoured cartridge-based e-cigarettes within the next 30 days will risk FDA enforcement action against them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a policy prioritizing enforcement against certain unauthorized flavoured e-cigarette products that appeal to kids, including fruit and mint flavours. The but states it is not a “ban.”
“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes. HHS is taking a comprehensive, aggressive approach to enforcing the law passed by Congress, under which no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “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. 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.”
FDA has had the authority to require the premarket authorization of all e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) since August 2016, but thus far has exercised enforcement discretion regarding the need for premarket authorization for these types of products.
Beginning 30 days from the publication of the notice of the availability of this guidance in the Federal Register, the FDA intends to prioritize enforcement against these illegally marketed ENDS products by focusing on the following groups of products that do not have premarket authorization:
- Any flavoured, cartridge-based ENDS product (other than a tobacco- or menthol-flavoured ENDS product);
- All other ENDS products for which the manufacturer has failed to take (or is failing to take) adequate measures to prevent minors’ access; and
- Any ENDS product that is targeted to minors or likely to promote the use of ENDS by minors.
Cartridge-based ENDS products are a type of ENDS product that consists of, includes, or involves a cartridge or pod that holds liquid that is to be aerosolized when the product is used. For purposes of this policy, a cartridge or pod is any small, enclosed unit (sealed or unsealed) designed to fit within or operate as part of an ENDS product.
The action comes in the wake of more than 2,500 vaping-related injuries being reported, including more than 50 deaths associated with vaping reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (although many are related to the use of tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] within vaping products) and a continued rise in youth use of e-cigarettes noted in government surveys.
“As we work to combat the troubling epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the enforcement policy we’re issuing today confirms our commitment to dramatically limit children’s access to certain flavored e-cigarette products we know are so appealing to them – so-called cartridge-based products that are both easy to use and easily concealable. We will continue to use our full regulatory authority thoughtfully and thoroughly to tackle this alarming crisis that’s affecting children, families, schools and communities,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “Coupled with the recently signed legislation increasing the minimum age of sale of tobacco to 21, we believe this policy balances the urgency with which we must address the public health threat of youth use of e-cigarette products with the potential role that e-cigarettes may play in helping adult smokers transition completely away from combustible tobacco to a potentially less risky form of nicotine delivery. While we expect that responsible members of the industry will comply with premarket requirements, we’re ready to take action against any unauthorized e-cigarette products as outlined in our priorities. We’ll also closely monitor the use rates of all e-cigarette products and take additional steps to address youth use as necessary.”
The final guidance outlining the agency’s enforcement priorities for electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes and e-liquids, comes as the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) results External Link Disclaimer on e-cigarette use show that more than 5 million U.S. middle and high school students are current e-cigarette users (having used within the last 30 days) – with a majority reporting cartridge-based products as their usual brand.
The FDA has demonstrated a deep commitment to taking steps to prevent youth from using and becoming addicted to any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. This enforcement policy is an important step in the agency’s ongoing work to ensure these products are not marketed to, sold to, or used by kids, as outlined in the agency’s Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, including investing in public education campaigns to educate youth about the dangers of e-cigarette use, provide resources to educators, parents and community leaders to prevent youth use, as well as further explore how to help those kids who are already addicted to e-cigarettes quit.