The FDA put out a new press release Wednesday, September 12th.

It’s a stark warning to the Big 5 vape manufactures to get their houses in order and stop teen vaping, or the FDA will take drastic action.

As press releases go, it’s an interesting read. It shows that the Commissioner, Dr. Gottleib believes quite clearly that e cigarettes are a force for good and can, as part of a broader plan, help lower the number of smokers in the USA. The FDA plan is to reduce the smoking rates from 15% to 1.4 %, with e cigarettes playing a role. However, he writes, “we find ourselves at a very challenging crossroads in the execution of this plan.”

The crossroads mentioned are the levels of teen vaping.

What’s due to come out in the public sphere in the next few months are some government statistics that are said to show vaping among teens is at epidemic proportions. Proportions so high, that they have taken the FDA by surprise. Prior to this press release, the FDA had put in place policies to try and reduce teen vaping. Using a three-pronged approach of preventing youth access to tobacco products, curbing the marketing of tobacco products aimed at youth, and educating teens about the dangers of using any tobacco products. This has resulted so far in manufacturers that were selling candy wrapped e -liquids to stop, and the FDA expanding their enforcement team against retailers selling to kids.  Yet this has not been enough and not produced the results hoped for.

As such, half way through the press release, the gloves come off:

 “in view of the accelerating use among youth, we’re actively considering whether we will enforce the premarket review provision earlier, when it is apparent that these products are now subject to widespread youth use.”

The premarket review provision was given a reprieve from 2018 until 2022.

That now hangs in the balance. If this is brought in earlier than 2022, no e cigarette that was produced after 2007 will be allowed on the market.  “It’s now clear to me, that in closing the on-ramp to kids, we’re going to have to narrow the off-ramp for adults who want to migrate off combustible tobacco and onto e-cigs.”

The FDA has written to the Big 5, but it is realistic?

Can the vaping industry do what the anti-tobacco industry has failed to do and curb teen use of nicotine? Because this is what is being asked of them. Is Gottleib being realistic in this? Can the might of JUUL, Vuse, MarkTen, blu e-cigs, and Logic, that make up 97% of the USA, under intense scrutiny do what the anti-tobacco industry has failed to do for decades?  According to the New York Times, despite JUUl ploughing $30 million into a campaign to reduce teen vaping, that included purging their social media accounts and removing over 4,562 posts on Instagram. They only removed 45 of 144 posts on Facebook and Dr Gottleib is not impressed, saying, “It didn’t have the intended impact, or I wouldn’t be viewing the statistics I’m now seeing,”. The Big 5 have 60 days in which to reply to the FDA, to let the FDA know what they are doing/will do to curb the levels of teen vaping. Yet no matter what they do now, the stats that will come out in the next few months will reflect the past.

Gottlieb goes straight to the point, writing;

 “Let me be clear. This may require these brands to revise their sales and marketing practices, including online sales; to stop distributing their products to retailers who sell to kids; and to remove some or all of their flavored e-cig products from the market until they receive premarket authorization and otherwise meet applicable requirement. “So, we’re at a crossroads today. It’s one where the opportunities from new innovations will be responsibly seized on right now, or perhaps lost forever.”

The 60 days means we may find out just before the holidays what the Big 5 have suggested, and what the FDA intend to do. By that time, we should also know the latest teen stats. Whatever the outcome though, the FDA are intent on reducing the appeal of e cigarettes, and therefore the function of e cigarettes. Flavors look very likely to diminish, and some online stores may either have to change their storefronts and business practices or cease trading altogether.