Federal regulators are expected to crack down on e-cigarettes, amid concerns that far too many teens are using the tobacco alternatives.
Anticipating an onslaught of new restrictions, JULL Labs has already moved to pull its flavored vaping cartridges from store shelves.
According to The Wall Street Journal, JUUL Labs will continue to market its menthol and tobacco e-cigarettes, while its candy- and dessert-flavored cartridges will remain for sale on its website.
JUUL’s flavored nicotine cartridges have become the most popular vaping brand among teenagers.
Last month, however, a study published by researchers at Stanford University found that many teens fail to recognize the product’s addictive potential, even though they use the devices more frequently compared to peers who use traditional cigarettes.
Among other things, the study authors noted that JUUL cartridges deliver more nicotine than competing brands of e-cigarettes, and produce a throat hit that is more comparable to conventional cigarettes.
“I was surprised and concerned that so many youths were using JUUL more frequently than other products,” the paper’s senior author said in a press release announcing the study’s publication. “We need to help them understand the risks of addiction. This is not a combustible cigarette, but it still contains an enormous amount of nicotine — at least as much as a pack of cigarettes.”
In September, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had sent warning letters to the manufacturers of popular vaping devices, including JUUL, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.’s Vuse, Altria Group’s MarkTen, Imperial Brands’s blu, and Japan Tobacco’s Logic devices. The companies were given 60 days to formulate a strategy for making their products less appealing to minors.
The FDA also warned more than 1,000 retailers to stop illegally selling e-cigarettes to children and issued 131 fines to stores that allegedly violated the restriction on sales to minors.
Finally, FDA inspectors made a surprise visit to JUUL Lab headquarters in San Francisco, where they seized over 1,000 documents pertaining to the company’s sales and marketing practices.
It’s been nearly 60 days since JUUL Labs and other e-cigarette manufacturers received their FDA warning letters.
According to Bloomberg News, the agency is now poised to intensify its campaign. Within the next week, the agency will ban the sale of candy-flavored nicotine cartridges at convenience stores, gas stations, and other retailers frequented by minors.
However, vape stores and other adult-only outlets will still be permitted to sell devices, as will online retailers that comply with stricter age-verification requirements being prepped by the FDA.
The new restrictions will only apply to cartridge-style e-cigarettes like JUUL. Other types of vaping devices won’t be affected.
While the coming restrictions appear to be a step in the right direction, e-cigarette critics worry that ever-resourceful teens will find ways to obtain the flavored cartridges as long as they remain on the market.
“It’s not enough,” Meredith Berkman, co-founder of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes, told Bloomberg News. “There has to be a complete ban on flavors everywhere.”
On the other side of the debate, a lobbyist with the National Association of Convenience Stores predicted that the industry would take court action to block the restrictions, telling USAToday that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act “expressly forbids” the FDA from discriminating against any “channel of trade.”