It is no secret at this point that the FDA has been targeting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. According to the CNBC, in one the latest updates, the FDA commissioner publicly targeted the sale of flavored e-cigarettes at convenience stores.
In a recent interview on the “Squawk Box”, commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the FDA is considering banning convenience store sales of e-cigarettes and to allowing them to only be sold at vape shops.
The concern is due to the use of vape products amongst teenagers. According to the FDA, e-cigarette use among high school students “surged” 77% and is also up to 50% for middle school students. The levels are considered an “epidemic”.
“We’re looking at what can be sold in brick-and-mortar stores and whether flavored products can be sold in regular stores such as a 7-Eleven and a truckstop and a gas station, or whether flavored products on the market should be confined to adult vaping shops, which generally tend to do a better job of checking ID,” Gottlieb said.
Due to the response made by Gottlieb, the NACS Foundation asked the agency to work with them and other age verification groups to reduce the number of sales to minors. In the same statement, however, NACS had the following criticism of the FDA.
“The FDA has refused to share the data it has on the inspections it has carried out of vape shops and other stores that would allow the industry to evaluate and address any shortcomings,” said Senior VP of Government Relations, Lyle Beckwith. “All the information available shows that the convenience industry has consistently improved compliance through improved training to prevent underaged sales and that indeed the industry has succeeded in achieving compliance much higher than required by the federal government under the Synar [Amendment] requirements… If the FDA thinks otherwise, it needs to have some factual basis for it. Banning the convenience industry from selling e-cigarettes would be counterproductive as it would simply mean that minors will seek e-cigarettes from less-regulated channels of sale.”
In a recent newsletter, the Wells Fargo Securities managing director of consumer equity research, Bonnie Herzog, stated that the FDA should be releasing a greater number of quality evidence to support their statements. By doing so, they could lead to three possible secnarios stated by Herzog:
- The FDA bans online sales of e-cigs until it is able to formulate appropriate restrictions via regulation.
- Possible restrictions made by the FDA on the sale of cartridge based e-cigs to vape shops which could lead to the removal of them from c-stores.
- The FDA restricts or bans particular e-cig flavors that have high appeal to youth.
If you have been following the targeting of vape products by the FDA then you may be familiar with the undercover operation they conducted over this past summer. During the investigation, their were more than 1,300 fines and warning letters sent to retailers due to underage sales.
They also looked into the marketing practices of a number of e-cigarette manufacturers, specifically targeting the popular JUUL brand.
Cooperating with the FDA, manufacturers stated that they comply with the strict guidelines of keeping their products away from minors.
Fontem Ventures (an e-cigarette and vape company) officials from Charlotte, NC stated that their products have been available for sale in the U.S. since before the FDA’s “deeming” deadline of Aug. 8 2016. They also stated they will provide the FDA with supporting information.
“We fully recognize the challenge faced by the FDA in balancing the positive public health potential of vapor products with legitimate concerns regarding youth access and responsible marketing,” said the Fontem officials. “Fontem is committed to creating something better for the world’s smokers. Vaping provides a unique opportunity to switch smokers to a healthier alternative but this can only be achieved by responsible businesses operating in appropriately regulated markets.”