Lifestyle

US orders restriction on e-cigarette sales; youth use surges

US regulators Thursday ordered sharp restrictions on sales of e-cigarettes, as national data showed a 78 percent single-year surge in vaping among young people, with two-thirds using fruit and candy-flavored products.

The proposed regulations announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would allow flavored e-cigarettes products to be sold in stores only, not online, and would also ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars
The proposed regulations announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would allow flavored e-cigarettes products to be sold in stores only, not online, and would also ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars (AFP)

US regulators Thursday ordered sharp restrictions on sales of e-cigarettes, as national data showed a 78 percent single-year surge in vaping among young people, with two-thirds using fruit and candy-flavored products.

The proposed regulations announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would allow flavored e-cigarettes products to be sold in stores only, not online, and would also ban menthol in cigarettes and flavored cigars.

The changes will be open to a public comment period lasting until June before they would take effect.

"These data shock my conscience," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, referring to the latest data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.

"From 2017 to 2018, there was a 78 percent increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students," he said.

"These increases must stop. And the bottom line is this: I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes."

The proposed FDA rules aim to restrict sales of all flavored vaping cartridges -- other than tobacco, mint and menthol -- to sales at "age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification," said an FDA statement.

The reason mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes are not included is they are more popular with adults who may be using them to decrease or stop their use of traditional cigarettes.

"This reflects a careful balancing of public health considerations," Gottlieb said.

"Data suggests that mint- and menthol-flavored ENDS are more popular are more popular with adults than with kids."

At the same time, the FDA announced a proposal to ban menthol in combustible cigarettes and cigars.

"I'm deeply concerned about the availability of menthol-flavored cigarettes," Gottlieb said.

"I believe these menthol-flavored products represent one of the most common and pernicious routes by which kids initiate on combustible cigarettes," he said, adding that "menthol products disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities."