FDA Action on Flavored E-Cigarettes - More Action Needed!
On September 9, the FDA announced that it had denied marketing applications for most flavored e-cigarettes, recognizing the role of flavored e-cigarettes in attracting youth. However, the FDA will leave our kids at risk unless it acts quickly on the remaining applications, including for products like Juul that have driven the youth e-cigarette epidemic, and eliminates all flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol-flavored products that are widely used by kids. Every day these products remain on the market, our kids remain in jeopardy. To truly protect kids and end the youth e-cigarette epidemic, the FDA must act swiftly to clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol.
Why is it so critical for the FDA to act quickly on the remaining e-cigarette application?
- There is no public health justification for the FDA to allow the continued sale of any flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol-flavored products. There is overwhelming evidence that flavored e-cigarettes – including menthol products – appeal to kids and have fueled the youth e-cigarette epidemic, while there is a lack of evidence that flavored e-cigarettes are effective at helping smokers quit. Of the 3.6 million U.S. kids who use e-cigarettes, 83% report using flavored products and over 1 million use menthol e-cigarettes, according to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The evidence shows that kids quickly migrated to menthol e-cigarettes after mint and other flavored cartridge products were taken off the market. If the FDA authorizes any menthol e-cigarettes, even more kids are likely to use them.
- There is only limited and inadequate evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes are effective at helping smokers quit. The 2020 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking Cessation concluded, “there is presently inadequate evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes, in general, increase smoking cessation.” The World Health Organization reached a similar conclusion in a July 2021 report, finding that “evidence on the use of ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery systems] as a cessation aid is inconclusive.” The evidence is even weaker that flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol-flavored products, are effective at helping smokers quit.
- The Juul products pending before the FDA put kids doubly at risk. Not only do they come in menthol flavor attractive to kids, these products also have high nicotine levels – equivalent to a whole pack of cigarettes – that can rapidly addict kids. The FDA cannot allow these highly addictive, menthol-flavored Juul products to stay on the market. But Juul’s menthol e-cigarettes are not the only issue. Other menthol cigarettes such as blu and Reynolds American’s Vuse are also important.
Because of the delays and gaps in the FDA’s actions, it is critical that states and cities step up their efforts to eliminate ALL flavored e-cigarettes, as well as other flavored tobacco products. Check out more at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ state and local issues page to see what’s happening in your area.
Looking for resources for talking to your kids about tobacco and e-cigarettes and helping them avoid nicotine addiction? Head to tfk.org/protectkids/resources-for-parents.