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Due To The E-Cigarette ‘Epidemic’ US Restricts Its Flavours

E-cigarettes have been a divisive topic in the public health community.

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e-cigarette, cigarettes
Customers puff on e-cigarettes at the Henley Vaporium in New York City. VOA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration next week will issue a ban on the sale of fruit and candy flavored electronic cigarettes or e-cigarette in convenience stores and gas stations, an agency official said, in a move to counter a surge in teenage use of e-cigarettes.

The ban means only tobacco, mint and menthol flavors can be sold at these outlets, the agency official said, potentially dealing a major blow to Juul Labs Inc, the San Francisco-based market leader in vape devices.

The FDA also will introduce stricter age-verification requirements for online sales of e-cigarettes. The FDA’s planned restrictions, first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed to Reuters by the official, do not apply to vape shops or other specialty retail stores.

There has been mounting pressure for action after preliminary federal data showed teenage use had surged by more than 75 percent since last year, and the FDA has described it as an “epidemic.”

e-cigarette
In this April 11, 2018, photo, an unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school’s campus in Cambridge, Mass. Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine. VOA

Crackdown

“E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in September. “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.”

That growth has coincided with the rise of Juul, whose sales of vaping devices grew from 2.2 million in 2016 to 16.2 million devices last year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency threatened in September to ban Juul and four other leading e-cigarette products unless their makers took steps to prevent use by minors. The FDA gave Juul and four big tobacco companies 60 days to submit plans to curb underage use, a compliance period that is now ending.

e-cigarette
Packages of flavored liquids for e-cigarettes are seen displayed at a smoke shop in New York City. VOA

The planned restrictions on flavors in convenience stores are likely to have the biggest impact on Juul, which sells nicotine liquid pods in flavors such as mango, mint, fruit and creme, previously called creme brulee.

Juul competitors

The only other e-cigarette competitors sold at convenience stores are those marketed primarily by tobacco companies such as Altria Group Inc, British American Tobacco Plc, Imperial Brands Plc and Japan Tobacco Inc.

Those products, sold under the MarkTen, blu, Vuse and Logic brands, have lost market share as Juul has risen to prominence over the last year, growing from 13.6 percent of the U.S. e-cigarette market in early 2017 to nearly 75 percent now, according to a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen retail data.

E-cigarette products represent a small share of revenue for major tobacco companies, whereas Juul’s business is built entirely on the vaping devices. Revenue from e-cigarette devices made up less than 1 percent of British American Tobacco’s global revenue for the first six months of 2018, according to a company filing from July.

e-cigarette
E-cigarette additives impair lung function: Study. ( Image Source: https://ecigarettereviewed.com/)

Altria last month announced it would stop selling its pod-based electronic cigarettes, generally smaller devices that use pre-filled nicotine liquid cartridges, in response to the FDA’s concerns about teen usage. The company also said it would restrict flavors for its other e-cigarette products to tobacco, menthol and mint.

Representatives from Altria, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco did not respond to requests for comment Thursday evening. A Juul spokeswoman declined to comment.

The companies have previously said their products are intended for adult use and that they work to ensure retailers comply with the law.

Divisive products

Juul has previously said the company wants to be “part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people” but that “appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch.”

e-cigarette
Ban on e-cigarettes, Pixabay

Meredith Berkman, a founder of Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes, which seeks to curb underage use, said the agency’s move was a “good first step,” but added that “the final step should have happened yesterday.”

“Why not do away with flavors altogether, why not do away with online sales altogether?” she said.

Also Read: Smoking Habits May Harm Breastfeeding, Newborns At Risk

E-cigarettes have been a divisive topic in the public health community. Some focus on the potential for the products to shift lifelong smokers onto less harmful nicotine products, while others fear they risk drawing a new generation into nicotine addiction.

Last year the FDA, under Gottlieb, extended until 2022 a deadline for e-cigarette companies to comply with new federal rules on marketing and public health. (VOA)

Next Story

Kim Jong-Un And Donald Trump To Meet In late February

The White House has not confirmed the location of the next Trump-Kim summit

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump talks with Kim Yong Chol, left, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of leader Kim Jong Un's closest aides, as they walk from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, June 1, 2018. VOA

The White House has announced that a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be held at the end of February, at a place to be announced “at a later date.”

The announcement was made after Trump met Friday with Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s top nuclear envoy in the Oval Office, which the White House said was to “discuss efforts to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program.”

Trump’s meeting with the former North Korean spymaster, who often is referred to as Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man, lasted 90 minutes.

After the meeting, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the administration is continuing “to make progress” on this front.

“The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see full and verified denuclearization,” Sanders said, adding they have seen “good faith from the North Koreans in releasing the hostages and other moves.”

Earlier on Friday, Kim Yong Chol met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a Washington hotel. The meeting’s aim was to revive nuclear negotiations, which have been postponed for months over what U.S. officials say is Pyongyang’s refusal to meet Washington’s demand for a detailed inventory of its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea, Summit
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo escorts Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy with the United States, into talks at a hotel in Washington, Jan. 18, 2019. VOA

The latest announcement is being met with some skepticism by analysts about whether enough progress has been achieved in the negotiations to justify a second summit.

There is a “missing ingredient,” said Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea Studies at the Council for Foreign Relations. “Is there some kind of understanding behind the scenes, even at the framework level, that provides a basis or justification for going forward that simply can’t be seen based on public evidence today?”

Snyder said that from Trump’s perspective, a second summit is to be expected because the first summit generated “good ratings.” He noted, however, that in order for a second summit to be successful, “the bar will be higher.”

Denuclearization

On several occasions Trump has expressed his confidence about North Korean denuclearization.

“With North Korea, we have a very good dialogue,” the president said Jan. 6, adding that it’s “very special” and that with “anybody else but me, you’d be in war right now.”

USA, Trump, North Korea
A man looks at a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump shaking hands before their meeting in Singapore, in Tokyo, June 12, 2018. VOA

But critics point out that Pyongyang has not taken measurable steps toward disarmament since the first Trump-Kim historic summit in Singapore last June.

At the United Nations on Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres encouraged both countries to continue talks.

Also Read: Human Rights Situation in North Korea Needs Reforms

“We believe it’s high time to make sure the negotiations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea start again seriously and that a road map is clearly defined for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Guterres told reporters. “We won’t advocate for any anticipation of other measures before a clear negotiation is put in place, aiming at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with a road map.”

The White House has not confirmed the location of the next Trump-Kim summit, but American media reports have quoted sources as saying that Danang, Vietnam, is being discussed as one of the likely venues. (VOA)