In case you missed it:  FDA says ‘game over’ for e-cigs if teen vaping doesn’t stop

In case you missed it: FDA says ‘game over’ for e-cigs if teen vaping doesn’t stop

During a public hearing this past Friday, FDA Commissioner cranked up his threats to institute an industry-wide ban on vapor products unless teen vaping rates drop sharply in 2019.  The source of his ire seems to be primarily targeted at Juul whose products he claims are the most popular among American youth. 

If vapor companies do not stop selling to teens, Gottlieb says the entire category of e-cigarettes and vaping products could be removed from the market, even online commerce sites.  He further stated that all he needs to do is revise the already controversial FDA deeming regulations, and the ban could theoretically go into place without congressional oversight.

Related Article:  Scott Gottlieb: Trump’s FDA pick has strong ties to Big Pharma and GlaxoSmithKline

During the event held in Silver Springs, Maryland, Gottlieb’s “existential threat” referenced internal data indicating that teen vaping rates are at an all-time high, rising nearly 80 percent in 2018 alone.  Approximately 1.5 million middle and high school students have taken up vaping since 2017, according to the same internal data.  The FDA Chief made the following statements.

“I’ll tell you this. If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of the dramatic rise in 2018, the entire category will face an existential threat…It will be game over for these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process.”

He further stated that new kid-friendly drug therapies might need to be manufactured as a way to help youngsters battle their addiction to nicotine.  Current Big Pharma smoking cessation tools like the patch and nicotine gums and lozenges cannot be sold to minors either.   Gottlieb’s affinity for drug therapies for kids is also attracting attention.

"This progress is being undercut — even eclipsed — by the recent, dramatic rise in youth vaping…A few years ago, it would have been incredible to me that we’d be here, discussing the potential for drug therapy to help addicted youth vapers quit nicotine."

Prior to becoming head of the FDA, Dr. Gottlieb served on the boards of at least five major pharmaceutical companies.  Coincidently, many of these same five companies own the patents on nicotine gums, lozenges, and patches.

Juul Labs blasts back against FDA ‘existential threat’

In the waning days of 2018, The FDA announced the banning of sales of flavored vapor products through conventional brick-and-mortar retailers like convenience stores and gas stations.  At the time, Gottlieb was also openly considering a nationwide ban much like the one he is threatening now.

But just days before the FDA announcement, Juul Labs and Big Tobacco’s Altria Group agreed to pull flavored products from store shelves voluntarily.  Juul also decreased their social media presence by announcing that they would no longer respond to customer comments and private messages on Facebook and Instagram.  Juul also implements an over-21 policy, but all of these “voluntary” actions may have been too little too late.

Related Article:  Was FDA’s Gottlieb DUPED as Altria grants Juul access to 230,000 new retailers?

Gottlieb’s disgust towards Juul may have been only temporarily squelched.  It probably didn’t help much that just weeks later, Altria announced that it would be investing in Juul Labs as a 35 percent shareholder.  When news broke of Gottlieb’s most recent public threats from Friday’s presser, Juul spokesperson Ted Kwong issued the following rebuttal to The Hill

“Underage use of JUUL and any other vaping products is completely unacceptable to us and is directly opposed to our mission of eliminating cigarettes by offering existing adult smokers a true alternative to combustible cigarettes…We are moving full steam ahead on implementing our action plan to limit youth usage, and this is unchanged since we announced our plan in November," he added. "We will be a transparent, engaged, and committed partner with FDA, state Attorneys General, local municipalities, and community organizations in the effort to combat underage use.” 

Gottlieb’s anti-vaping rhetoric may be annoying to advocates of vapor products and Juulers in particular, but his harsh threats are gaining traction outside of the vaping community.  Anti-tobacco organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Lung Association want Gottlieb to push even harder. 

Related Article:  FDA Chief delivers cryptic warning to vaping to ‘step up and step up soon’

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints, policy or company position of, the rest of our staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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Dan S - February 1, 2019

As a vape shop owner this is one of the scariest articles I have read in a long time!
We are a small shop. We started up after my wife and I quit smoking ( with the help of e cigarettes after 20+ years and muitple quit attempts), because we wanted to help others quit too!
We have answerd every question that has been asked of us. We have endured every bad mount comment that has been aimed it us. We have always been advocates for our industry, and sometihing like this would shut us down!!!!
JUUL only cares about themselves and their profits. Juul burned every bridge they could before the sold out to big tobacco. Juul has never been to a single Convention , panel meeting, and has not given not one single dollar to advocacy!!!!

My shop has NEVER sold a e cigarette product to a minor !!!!!
My shop will NEVER sell Juul!!!!!
We have been Cop shopped multiple times and have pass EVERY TIME!!!
You want to stop teen vaping?!?!
Ban sales in convenience stores!
Ban sales in gas stations!!!!
Ban online sales!!!!

I will guarantee you one thing , if you ban sales outright you will create a HUGE black market, you will cost the economy 8 billion dollars a year, and teens will still get Vapes products!!

A frustrated Shop owner!!!

harlan martin - January 30, 2019

Its not the vape shops and vape companies that are responsible for the products sold to minors! its the gas stations and tobacco shops that the FDA allows to carry e-cigs! take them out of places other than vape shops and make online retailers require social security numbers and picture ID! vaping saved my life and saved me alot of money! if you take away vaping then cigarettes and alcohol should be next!

Lisa - January 30, 2019

Well isn’t this an interesting article. So the FDA , want to ban vaping because of teenage vaping. What a f**king joke. Why I say that, I didn’t see the FDA , ban cigarettes, because teens were smoking. Isn’t that a double standard? I think someone is getting paid under the table. My opinion.

Adam Vamosi - January 29, 2019

Is it or is Dr. Gottlieb a conflict of interest I this matter? He belong to 5 major pharma companies that dealt with nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges. He WANTS vaping gone. If everyone is back on cigs and vaping is no longer an option, they will buy big pharma products again. I think it’s time our industry goes on the offense and put this out there for the public to read. Our federal government, like the FDA, have been abusing their power and using propaganda to destroy our industry and livelihood. Let’s go on the offensive and point out the failures of the FDA. That is how we are going to win. Otherwise, vaping will be done this time next year because we keep playing defense.

Thomas Mitchell - January 29, 2019

So, when will this so-called ban take cigarettes and alcohol off the market? I smoked from age 11 till 46 and never once was cigarettes attacked like this. It seems all driven by money. Let’s be honest, this has nothing to do with the kids, these folks have never cared about anyone’s health, it’s all about profits. They think if they ban Vaping everyone is going to either run back to cigarettes or pharmaceutical nicotine replacement. they are already making Chantix available to teenagers and we all know what vile side effects that has had for adults between violence, suicide, homicide and strokes it is sad that they put lives at risk for a profit and then lie and call it concern. there is a special place in hell for these folks.

Ashley Downs - January 29, 2019

I agree with Taylor Upchurch and Mary to an extent but one way or another it ends up in the hands of minors. Hell I can remember being 12 years old and even older popping a cog in my mouth and sneaking my parents booze and a couple of those times I got the cigarettes from the counter of a run of the mill gas station but that was the mid 90s and the gas station was allowed to have the cigarettes right there in the reach of kids. One way or the other Juul pods will end up in the hands of our kids thru no fault of any of the other Ecig companies so why punish the masses when theres a very simple solution STOP selling e-cigs or e-juices at gas stations even the Marktens. I say that any electronic cigarette or e-juice ONLY be able for sale at Vapor stores dont even sell them at tobacco stores I believe if this happened then it would stop everyone else from being punished and yes I see it as a punishment because if it weren’t for e-cigs I would still smell like a nasty ashtray and fighting Chronic Bronchitis or pneumonia again and again. But I digress PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t take the only nicotine I have in my life Mr. FDA MAN.

Mark Carter - January 29, 2019

F.D.A. must stand for Fucking Dumb Asses.
They wanna crack down on vaping devices.
It isn’t so much a matter of them truly being concerned for teen safety as it is a matter of money.
The vaping industry cuts into big tobacco and big pharma’s profit line. Companies that line the pockets of Congress and, I’m sure, the FDA.
They don’t honestly care about our nation’s health. They would rather everyone be addicted to cancerous cigarettes.

Lisa Schepka - January 29, 2019

Don’t you Dare take our vaping rights away!!! Absurd…and continue distributing cigarettes,Alcohol, etc,. And soon legalizing marijuana? This is Absurd! As Adults we have our right to vape, to stop vape products,would be a big mistake!!

Taylor Upchurch - January 28, 2019

This is just a set up, honestly. If they really wanted to keep vapor products out of the hands of teens, the FDA would be more strict in enforcing the law that they put into place. The law that states establishments who permit ONLY the people of the legal smoking age or older the ability to sell “flavored” tobacco products. The FDA has loads of money to spend on anti-vaping campaigns on cable television in which their target market (teens) don’t even use anymore, but they can’t put together some type of task force to enforce their own rules? What is the e-cigarette industry supposed to do? We have no authority. I can walk into at least 9 gas stations within a 5-mile radius of me and see flavored pods or flavored eliquid bottles with flavors that are not even made in this country (who even knows what is in those bottles?). What can I do? Ask them to hand over their vape inventory? Majority of the gas stations are selling to minors right now, STILL. The teens don’t use a JUUL because they want the “flavor.” They could just go drink whatever “amazing” flavor, horrible for the body, energy drink, or go buy those Sour Patch Kids-flavored sugary cereal I saw in Wal-Mart yesterday. It is completely legal. With all of the flavors in the world now, why would you go through the trouble of doing something illegal? Teens don’t care about the flavors. They care about looking “care-free” and “fun” to their peers because they are going through a state of self-doubt and emotional instability. That is why the FDA needs to have an alliance with, at the very least, vapor stores. The people on ground zero of what is actually going on. What is the point of making laws if no one is going to enforce them? Teens will use their little device with whatever type of pod they can find to put in it, until someone tells them NO. I am here to state this: I don’t sell to minors. We have STRICT rules in all of my establishments that are enforced! The threat he made doesn’t even make logical sense. The vaping industry is largely composed of small business owners apart from JUUL. We existed without a “teen-vaping-epidemic” for several years. Why would someone who has everything on the line, their livelihood, risk selling to minors? Yeah, you may have a couple of bad apples, but I can guarantee you that the couple of bad apples didn’t put vapes into the hands of thousands and thousands of teens. They get them from gas stations, where someone is getting paid minimum wage who doesn’t care if they take any extra time and effort to ID or not. The fact that he blames the e-cigarette industry is just appalling. He is the man in power. We are supposed to trust in his judgement. Yet here we are. He would rather threaten to destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs and an industry that is intended to benefit the future of public health. The vaping industry was a multi-billion dollar industry before JUUL. JUUL became popular, and alot like Phillip Morris buying into JUUL, every widely spread company losing cigarette sales wanted their hand in the money pot. The people that actually ID everyone (not just minors) are the people who are fighting for their livelihoods. People like me, who have families to support, and wanted to make something of themselves by investing in products that I have personally seen get thousands of people to finally be able to put down the cigarettes.

Mary Kunkel - January 27, 2019

Hmmm….if this goes through then I think we need to see cigarettes taken away and also alcohol. Both items getting into the hands of our younger populations for generations, and let’s see, illegal drugs taken away too! Most of us adults have some sort of vice to combat stress or just for enjoyment. I lead a sheltered life when I was underage. Still had no problem getting my hands on cigarettes and alcohol. Doesn’t mean I abuse these items now. Then again abuse of an item is totally personal. Some individuals can drink a lot more than others. Who gets to say what the limits are?

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