Federal authorities are barring the sale of fruit- and candy-flavored vape liquids in gas stations and convenience stores next week in an effort to beat back a surge of vaping among teens and children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will still allow the sales of e-liquid – the nicotine-infused liquid that vaporizes inside a vaping device – at those retail locations, but only in tobacco, mint, and menthol flavors, The Washington Post reports.
The FDA also plans to order online retailers of vaping products to implement stricter age-verification controls. The new restrictions, however, will not apply to vape shops and other specialty retailers that deal in vaping products.
The latest rules will mainly deal a blow to San Francisco-based Juul, which has captured the lion’s share of the vaping market, largely through its product design and marketing campaigns with strong appeal to minors.
Juul has been in the FDA’s crosshairs ever since federal health data showed that vaping among minors has become an epidemic. While the stated purpose of vaping devices, according to manufacturers and retailers, is to provide adults with a healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes, sales of products geared toward minors have become cash cows for manufacturers and retailers.
According to federal data, teenage vaping surged more than 75 percent since last year and Juul has flourished alongside that trend. Last year, the company had just 13.6 percent of the U.S. vape market but now it controls nearly 75 percent, according to a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen retail data.
“[Vaping has] become an almost ubiquitous ‒ and dangerous ‒ trend among teens,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a September announcement. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”