"What we would ask the FDA to think about is really eliminating all the flavors, banning online sales completely ー because if you can't buy cigarettes online, you shouldn't be able to buy e-cigarettes online ー and I'd say most importantly, rolling back that date for premarket review". "Or a situation where those who now use menthol-flavored cigarettes might find it less attractive to switch completely to an e-cigarette", he said.
The US Food and Drug Administration wants people to cool it with the menthol cigarettes.
Koval said the number of high school students using e-cigarettes almost doubled in just one year.
"This reflects a careful balancing of public health considerations", Gottlieb said, citing data that shows mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarette products "are more popular with adults than with kids".
The battery-powered devices heat a nicotine liquid that users inhale, and are gaining popularity in the United States and overseas, particularly among young people, which Gottlieb has previously described as an "epidemic".
That action, according to the statement, starts with severely limiting the sale of e-cigarettes in all flavors except mint, menthol and tobacco; unflavored e-cigarettes are also unaffected by the policy. He also proposed beefing up measures so that convenience stores and some other retailers don't sell e-cigarettes in kid-friendly flavors like cherry and vanilla.
"More than half (54 percent) of youth smokers ages 12-17 use menthol cigarettes, compared to less than one-third of smokers ages 35 and older", said Gottlieb.
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Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said "it is widely recognized that e-cigarettes are the gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes for teens and young adults".
This afternoon, the FDA announced that they will begin the process to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes and create new steps to prevent teens from having access to flavored tobacco products.
Health experts applauded the FDA move.
E-cigarettes expose users to significantly lower levels of potentially toxic substances than traditional cigarettes, except for nicotine, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said earlier this year.
Juul, Logic, a unit of Japan Tobacco Inc, Altria, which makes e-cigarettes under the MarkTen brand, British American Tobacco Plc (BAT) and Imperial Brands Plc, the maker of blu e-cigarettes, all said they supported efforts to reduce youth access. "But intent is not enough, the numbers are what matter, and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarette products is a problem".
Getting out ahead of today's FDA announcement, Juul on Tuesday stopped filling store orders for mango, fruit, creme and cucumber pods and will resume sales only to retailers that scan IDs and take other steps to verify a buyer is at least 21. They may be sold online only when there is more stringent age verification.