US health officials are sounding the alarm about teenage use of e-cigarettes, calling the problem an "epidemic" and ordering manufacturers to reverse the trend or risk having their flavored vaping products pulled from the market. The "epidemic" perceived by the FDA is mainly an epidemic of e-cigarette experimentation, and even that trend seems to have reversed, judging from the latest NYTS results.
Most of the violations found in the undercover blitz, conducted from June through August, were for the illicit sale of Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL and Logic e-cigarette products, according to the FDA. As long as some retailers are careless, some adults are willing to buy e-cigarettes on behalf of minors, and some teenagers manage to swipe them from parents or older siblings, there will be leakage from the adult market.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced the plan Wednesday, saying the agency is giving the manufacturers of Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, Blu, and Logic-which make up more than 97% of the United States e-cigarette market-60 days to submit their plans, USA Today reports. Those five brands account for about 97% of the USA e-cigarette market, the agency reported.
The health department said 19 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes.
The FDA also targeted Juul retailers this spring, issuing 56 warning letters and six civil monetary penalties.More news: Akshay, Rajini battle face-to-face in '2.0' teaser
Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog, in a research note, said Juul appears "most at risk" from the crackdown because of its "strong appeal to youth and the FDA's comments on flavors".
"I believe certain flavors are one of the principal drivers of the youth appeal of these products".
MarkTen's flavors, for example, include "menthol", "classic", and "summer blend", while Juul's flavors have included "fruit medley" and "creme brulee", recently shortened to "fruit" and "creme".
It marks a shift in the agency's tone on e-cigarettes.More news: Ericsson brings 5G to life for United States operators
Gottlieb is remarkably cavalier about throwing adult smokers under the bus in the name of preventing adolescents from experimenting with e-cigarettes.
"We can not allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine", he said. As part of that plan, Gottlieb has suggested some smokers could be directed toward alternative products that deliver nicotine without the carcinogens of cigarettes. They also show that the nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive, and that the other chemicals added as part of the flavoring might be harmful.
"We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release.
"I'm here to tell them today that this prior approach is over", he said. "I think education is the answer to fixing the problem, just like how we have educated young people about alcohol and other tobacco products over the years", Delaney said.
Imperial Brands unit Fontem Ventures said it would work to further strengthen youth access prevention policies and procedures.More news: Oil Prices Climb Ahead of US Sanctions on Iran
None of the other four companies contacted by the FDA immediately responded to TIME's requests for comment.