The American government has banned the manufacture and sale of e-cigarette pods or cartridges in any flavour other than tobacco or menthol, in a bid to combat what the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labelled “epidemic levels” of youth use.
Companies have until the end of January to comply, or risk FDA enforcement actions.
The FDA’s 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that more than five million US middle and high school students are current e-cigarette users – with a majority reporting a preference for pod-based systems.
Data from another federal survey showed youngsters are particularly attracted to e-cigarette flavours such as fruit and mint, much more so than tobacco or menthol.
“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes” said US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. “We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves.”
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the ban “confirms our commitment to dramatically limit children’s access to certain flavoured e-cigarette products we know are so appealing to them – so-called cartridge-based products that are both easy to use and easily concealable.”
Hahn didn’t rule out the possibility of even more draconian measures: “We’ll also closely monitor the use rates of all e-cigarette products and take additional steps to address youth use as necessary.”
At the same time, the also FDA outlawed all other vaping products “for which the manufacturer has failed to take (or is failing to take) adequate measures to prevent minors’ access” and any vaping product targeted at minors or likely to promote vaping by minors.
American vaping suppliers are very much at the mercy of the FDA in this respect. The health watchdog hasn’t approved any e-cigarette product for use in the US. This means all of those currently available are technically on the market illegally and are subject to FDA enforcement at the drop of a hat.