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FDA may ban online sales of e-cigs, could threaten brands like Juul

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marijuana vaporizer vaping vapeEduardo
Munoz/Reuters

  • A leading government regulator could make selling
    e-cigarettes online illegal.
  • On Tuesday, Food and Drug Administration commissioner
    Scott Gottlieb said the agency is considering a ban on online
    sales of e-cigarettes.
  • The move could have an outsize effect on
    brands like Juul
    , which has a large online customer
    base.
  • Juul has faced a
    growing health backlash
    despite its
    surging popularity
    ,
    largely

    over claims of marketing
    to young people
    .

Selling e-cigarettes online could soon become illegal.

At a breakfast meeting with journalists on Tuesday, Food and Drug
Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency is
considering a ban on online sales of e-cigs. The move would
include barring popular e-cig startup Juul, recently
valued at $15 billion
, from selling its products over the
internet.

Juul, which currently dominates the e-cig market, has faced a

growing backlash
from public health advocates and researchers
over claims that it marketed
to teens
.

The company has refuted those claims.

Meanwhile, e-cigarettes have been
surging in popularity
— both among adults, as well as among
teens, whose
brains are uniquely vulnerable
to nicotine addiction.

“We’re in possession of data that shows a disturbingly sharp rise
in the number of teens using e-cigarettes in just the last year,”
Gottlieb
said in a statement
last week.

Preliminary versions of that data, while not yet public, suggest
the number of high school students who’ve used e-cigs sometime in
the past 30 days climbed by 75%,
CNBC reported on Tuesday
. Other public data suggests a
similar story: Between 2011 and 2017, e-cig use skyrocketed from
1.5% to 11.7% among high school students and from 0.6% to 3.3%
among middle school students, according to a recent
report
from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Over the past several years e-cigarettes were the most commonly
used tobacco product by youth,” Gottlieb said
on Twitter
in a discussion about the data this week.

A growing public health backlash against Juul


juul e-cig vape pen california prop e posterCalifornia Department of Public
Health

Despite Juul’s financial success, the startup faces a
growing backlash
from researchers and public health advocates
who are concerned that the company’s products are creating a new
generation of nicotine addicts.

Those researchers cite several peer-reviewed studies suggesting
that teens who vape are
seven times more likely
to smoke regular cigarettes than
young people who never use e-cigs.


Ana Rule
, a professor of environmental health and engineering
at Johns Hopkins University, told Business Insider that
device-makers fail to address “the increased risk to this huge
market they are creating among teenagers and young adults that
never have smoked, and would have never even considered smoking”
had they not vaped.


Nicholas Chadi
, a clinical pediatrics fellow at Boston
Children’s Hospital, spoke about the Juul at the American Society
of Addiction Medicine’s annual conference in April.

“After only a few months of using nicotine, [these teens]
describe cravings, sometimes intense ones. Sometimes they also
lose their hopes of being able to quit,” Chadi said.

Regulatory agencies are making moves to keep these products out
of teens’ hands.

The FDA recently
cracked down

on sales
of the Juul to minors and ordered five nicotine
vaping brands — Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, Blu E-cigs and Logic — to
submit plans showing they have strategies to prevent minors from
using their products.

Meanwhile, several states and countries are launching their own
initiatives to prevent youth from using the Juul. The
Massachusetts Attorney General is investigating whether Juul
violated state consumer-protection laws by failing to keep minors
from buying its products, and the city of San Francisco recently

banned flavored tobacco products
like the Juul. More
recently, Israel became the
first country to ban Juul devices entirely
.

In a statement issued last month, Israel’s Health Ministry said
the devices pose “a grave risk to public health.”

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