High school e-cigarette use has jumped nearly 80%. Now, the FDA wants new regulations
Vaping increased nearly 80% among high schoolers and 50% among middle schoolers since last year, prompting the US Food and Drug Administration to propose new measures against flavored nicotine products that have propelled the rise, the agency announced Thursday.
"These data shock my conscience," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement, proposing to strengthen the agency's policies against flavored e-cigarette products. These proposals could ultimately prompt their removal from shelves and websites that are accessible to minors.
How Juul's plan to teach students about vaping went up in smoke The proposed changes do not include mint, menthol and tobacco flavors, however. Gottlieb said he wanted to leave the door open for adults who might use these products to quit smoking cigarettes, "but it can't come at the expense of addicting a generation of kids on nicotine," he told CNN on Thursday. Despite these exceptions for e-cigarette flavors, Gottlieb proposed additional bans on regular menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. He also proposed tightening the reins on products that are marketed or "appealing to youth." "This could include using popular children's cartoon or animated characters, or names of products favored by kids like brands of candy or soda," the announcement said. Consumers and health experts have been locked in a contentious debate about vaping: While some see it as a smoking cessation tool for adults, others say there's no good evidence to support this. "We're committed to utilizing the full range of our regulatory authorities to directly target the places kids are getting these products and address the role flavors and marketing are playing," Gottlieb said in a statement. "We will leave no stone unturned," he said. "This is one of our highest priorities." 'Spike in use' One in five high schoolers has vaped in the past month, according to the new numbers announced by the FDA and released in conjunction with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "I'm also a father of young kids, and every time I go home and talk to parents of other kids ... this is the number one thing I hear about," Gottlieb told CNN. "Parents are deeply concerned about the trends that they're seeing in their high schools, in their middle schools."