AMERICA’S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarettes in stores and gas stations nationwide under a plan to stop underage vaping, it has been revealed.
The FDA is expected to announce details of the new measures next week, according to a senior agency official as reported in America’s Washington Post.
New measures will also include setting up age-verification measures for online sales to stop minors buying flavored pods.
The sales ban in grocery stores and gas stations is not expected to include menthol and tobacco flavors, reportedly because there are concerns that adult vapers could switch to their cigarette equivalents if they are not easily available.
The news comes just several weeks after FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told America’s CNBC that he was considering confining flavored e-cigarette sales to vape stores and specialist shops and disallowing them in stores such as 7-Eleven and Circle K because vape stores are better at checking ID from customers.
He said: "We're looking at what can be sold in brick-and-mortar stores and whether or not flavored products can be sold in regular stores like a 7-Eleven and a truck stop and a gas station, or whether or not flavored products on the market should be confined to adult vaping shops, which generally tend to do a better job of checking ID.”
The new law change, which is expected to have a “significant impact” on the vaping industry, has already been criticized by industry experts and public health groups who are concerned ex smokers who have successfully quit cigarettes thanks to vaping flavors, could return to their old habits if the products are harder to get hold of.
Those opposing the flavor ban include American Vaping Association's Gregory Conley who recently told a panel discussion on e-cigarettes hosted by US news website Axios that enforcing bans on both flavors and sales could do huge damage to America’s public’s health, since vaping has helped over 4.5million ex smokers quit tobacco for good.
He explained: “I vape Tropical Twist, so it has some pineapple to it, so mostly I use fruits – the vast majority of adult vapers are using non tobacco flavors and it’s the non tobacco flavors that so many of ex smokers say: ‘That’s the reason why I was able to quit because once I'd had mango, once I'd had watermelon, a tobacco cigarette didn’t taste so good after a week or two.’
“No doubt flavors are a reason why people are drawn to the product but it’s not the only reason why youth use the product. When the government ask them: 'Why have you vaped?’, the number one and number two reasons are that: ‘It’s less harmful than smoking’ and ‘because it’s less harmful to those around me’.
“So ignoring the hurt – the grave damage – that this would do to adult smokers if there was a flavor ban tomorrow, if youth are using these products for nicotine, many will continue to use these products if there are flavors or not.”
He added: “The number one issue - if you don't have flavors you do not have adults switching to these products....Tobacco flavors are awful. You do not have harm reduction with these products. You can just get rid of the entire category if you are not going to have flavors available.”
The FDA, meanwhile, has claimed the new initiative has been spurred by new preliminary government data that shows e-cigarette use rose 77 percent among high schoolers and nearly 50 per cent among middle schoolers in 2018.
It also comes after the FDA conducted investigations into underage vaping sales in stores across America earlier this year and issued over 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarettes to minors.
Retailers who were caught include national convenience stores and gas stations like 7-Eleven, Circle K, Shell and Mobil, according to an FDA database.