Federal regulators are threatening to pull e-cigarettes from shelves if manufacturers do not control teen use, which officials say has reached epidemic levels.
The Food and Drug Administration was prepared to embrace e-cigarettes as a way to wean adult smokers from cigarettes, but the agency is rethinking its approach after seeing scores of teens vaping. The crackdown by the FDA includes historic action against more than 1,300 retailers and five major manufacturers for their roles in "perpetuating youth access," the agency said.
"E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teenagers," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we're seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. The FDA cannot tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a trade off for enabling adults to access these products."
The e-cigarette craze has driven what's arguably the largest uptick of teen nicotine use in decades after years of driving cigarette smoking rates to record lows. Teens who would have never smoked cigarettes are happily inhaling fruity flavors, sometimes without realizing it is packed with nicotine, an addictive substance. Middle school and high school students sneak the devices into schools and flaunt pictures of their vapes or of themselves performing tricks on Instagram.