The "epidemic" of e-cigarette use among America's teenagers, as the FDA recently referred to it, is associated with a four-letter word: Juul. The wildly popular maker of flavored e-cigarettes has become as cool for a teenager to hold as an iPhone. But the advocacy groups and medical associations that have been campaigning against tobacco and nicotine products for years believe the FDA should be held equally accountable.
Although the FDA's recent crackdown on the sale of e-cigarettes — used by as many as 3 million teenagers, according to government data recently leaked to the press — has received praise, watchdog groups say this step is long overdue and still not nearly enough to reverse a public health crisis that has gotten out of control due to years of inaction by health regulators in both the Obama and Trump administrations.
A multi-decade effort to reduce the rate of teens smoking traditional cigarettes has had dramatic success, with the rate of teen smokers declining from more than 36 percent in 1996 to under 10 percent, and the millions of teens now using nicotine through e-cigarettes leaves advocates, like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, frustrated. "I'm not very happy with either the FDA or Juul," said Matt Myers, president of the antismoking nonprofit. "What I want is the government to do its job," he said. "The FDA pointing the finger at Juul is not enough."