The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered millions of e-cigarette products off the public market. It says it needs more time to review vape products sold by leading retailers such as Juul, the country’s largest e-cigarette maker.
The agency had a court-ordered deadline of Thursday to review more than 6.5 million applications for approval of what are considered new tobacco products, the vast majority of which are e-cigarettes and liquids. None had previously been reviewed by the FDA.
The FDA reviewed 93% of those applications in the past year, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, and Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement.
Of those reviewed, the agency rejected more than 946,000 flavored vape products “because their applications lacked sufficient evidence that they have a benefit to adult smokers sufficient to overcome the public health threat posed by the well-documented, alarming levels of youth use of such products,” Woodcock and Zeller said.
The pair said more work is needed to finish the reviews to “ensure that we continue taking appropriate action to protect our nation’s youth from the dangers of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, which remain the most commonly used tobacco product by youth in the United States.”
No e-cigarette product has been given official FDA approval to be sold, meaning all e-cigarette products technically are on the market illegally, the agency said in 2020. Federal officials decided to begin enforcing rules only against flavored products, which surveys show are more often used by children. Tobacco-flavored and menthol e-cigarette products ― which some adults use to quit smoking cigarettes ― were exempted.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) and other advocacy groups slammed the FDA’s decision to withhold action on major e-cigarette manufacturers, including Juul.
“The FDA’s failure today to act on applications by JUUL, the manufacturer with the single biggest e-cigarette market share, is extremely disappointing and will allow the industry to further endanger public health and hook more kids on their highly addictive products,” Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS Cancer Action Network, said in a statement, according to CNN.
“The FDA has had ample time to review the applications and allowing additional delays is unconscionable. There is overwhelming data to demonstrate the negative impact these kinds of flavored products have had on public health and their role in the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The time to act is now,” Lacasse added.
e-Cigarette use among high school students rose from 11.7% in 2017 to 19.6% in 2020, the ACS says. Nearly 5% of middle schoolers reported using them in 2020.
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