Online sales of e-cigarettes and similar devices could be banned in the U.S. as federal regulators look for ways to beat back an epidemic of adolescent vaping and nicotine addiction.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said a ban on online sales of e-cigarettes is “on the table” and is something the agency is “very clearly looking at.” Mr. Gottlieb made his comments Tuesday, Sept. 25 at a panel discussion on vaping hosted by the media company Axios in Washington D.C.
Mr. Gottlieb’s comments indicate that the FDA may be preparing to escalate its crackdown on the vaping industry. Earlier this month, he announced that the FDA gave e-cigarette manufacturers 60 days to demonstrate how they will keep their products out of the hands of children and teens. Failing that, the agency says it is prepared to ban flavored e-liquids – the nicotine-infused fluids used in e-cigarettes.
Until recently, Mr. Gottlieb’s FDA has been relatively friendly to the e-cigarette industry, maintaining that the devices provide a less harmful alternative to adult smokers trying to quit smoking conventional tobacco.
Now, faced with a soaring number of adolescent vapers, Mr. Gottlieb says that providing an alternative to adult smokers cannot come at the expense of creating whole new generations of nicotine addicts.
According to CNBC, preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that e-cigarette usage among high school students has rocketed 75 percent. According to CNBC, the data comes from the CDC’s latest annual National Youth Tobacco Survey, which has not been publicly released.
Those disturbing numbers could explain Mr. Gottlieb’s and the FDA’s sudden aggressive stance on e-cigarettes and the vaping industry in general.
Last week, the FDA announced the launch of its new “The Real Cost” Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign aimed at educating kids and teens about the dangers of e-cigarette usage.