FDA Takes Welcome Action Against Some Kid-Friendly E-Cigarettes, But Must Do More to Prevent Introduction of Such Products

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
August 23, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that all 17 companies that received FDA warnings in May have stopped selling nicotine-containing e-cigarette liquids with labeling or advertising resembling kid-friendly food products, such as juice boxes, candies or cookies. This is a welcome step to stop the sale of some of the most egregious, kid-friendly e-cigarette products. These results show what can happen when the FDA acts decisively.

We urge the FDA to take further action to protect kids by removing from the market kid-friendly e-cigarette products that have been illegally introduced in recent months without required agency review, curtailing marketing that makes these products appealing to kids and issuing a regulation to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

It is especially urgent that the FDA take effective action to address youth use of Juul e-cigarettes, which the agency has recognized have become wildly popular with teens across the United States, and to stop the introduction of Juul copycat products that threaten to make the problem even worse. Earlier this month, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other leading health and medical organizations urged the FDA to halt the sale of these Juul-like e-cigarette products that have been illegally introduced in recent months without the FDA’s prior review and authorization, as required by law.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has acknowledged that some products may be on the market illegally, writing in a recent blog post, “We’ve also become aware of reports that some companies may be marketing new products that were introduced after the FDA’s compliance period and have not gone through premarket review. These products are being marketed both in violation of the law and outside of the FDA’s announced compliance policies. We take these reports very seriously. Companies should know that the FDA is watching and we will take swift action wherever appropriate.”

The FDA also must make it a priority to prohibit the use of flavors in e-cigarettes and all other tobacco products given the clear evidence that flavors play a key role in youth initiation and continued use of tobacco products. While the agency’s recent enforcement actions removed some kid-friendly products, the latest research shows there are now more than 15,000 e-cigarette flavors on the market, including many with sweet flavors and colorful packaging that attract kids. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids recently joined with 46 other organizations in filing comments urging the FDA to quickly issue a rule prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

The FDA also has the authority to prevent the introduction and marketing of tobacco products that appeal to kids. The FDA must effectively exercise this authority to stop these threats to the health of our kids before they cause harm.