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FDA Cracks Down on Juul and E-Cigarette Retailers

In April, the F.D.A. announced it was investigating Juul’s marketing practices to determine if the company deliberately targeted youths. The agency requested reams of documents from the company, including focus group reports and toxicology studies. Juul has submitted thousands of pages of records to the agency, but neither the F.D.A. nor Juul have made them public. Dr. Gottlieb said the agency’s tobacco division is still poring through them.

While the actions against the industry are alarming to the e-cigarette companies, they are also problematic for the F.D.A.

In July 2017, as part of a broad plan to reduce tobacco deaths in the United States, the F.D.A. extended the deadline for e-cigarette makers to comply with new tough federal guidelines, which, among other things, require companies to prove the e-cigarettes are beneficial to public health. In granting the five-year extension till 2022, Dr. Gottlieb said he would also force manufacturers to cut nicotine levels in traditional cigarettes, to render them nonaddictive. For that to work, he said, smokers needed more and better cigarette substitutes.

But in an interview, Dr. Gottlieb said the immense popularity of vaping among teens was not something he foresaw last summer, and the agency must rethink its policy — perhaps moving the deadline closer and requiring companies to gain F.D.A. approval to stay on the shelves.

The attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, who recently began an investigation into the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, praised the F.D.A. for its new tactic.

“We’ve worked too hard over the past 50 years to reduce smoking rates among young people to let these companies profit off of getting them hooked on nicotine,” Ms. Healey said. “This move by the F.D.A. is a good first step to shut down companies targeting minors.”

Juul spokeswoman Victoria Davis said recently that the company had already stepped up its own patrol of retailers who advertise to youths or who don’t enforce age requirements, as well as social media posts. But it’s not always easy.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/health/juul-fda-vaping-ecigarettes.html

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