FDA regulators also are asking manufacturer Juul Labs to turn over documents about the design, marketing and ingredients of its devices.
Federal health officials are cracking down on underage use of a popular e-cigarette brand following months of complaints from parents, politicians and school administrators.
Abut 36 percent of high school seniors have tried vaping at least once, and many say that particularly slim Juul devices make it easy to get away with doing it in class.
Research on e-cigarettes is still nascent, but a growing body of evidence suggests they are not without their health risks – including acting as a possible gateway to cigarette smoking.
The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it has issued warnings to 40 retail and online stores as part of a nationwide operation against illegal sales of Juul to children.
The FDA is cracking down on the discrete Juul e-cigs favored by teenagers to vape in class
The rare request particularly focuses on whether certain product features are directly appealing to young people.
Like other e-cigarettes, Juul is an electronic device that turns liquid – usually containing nicotine – into an inhalable vapor.
Thanks in part to its resemblance to a small computer flash drive, Juul has become popular with some teenagers as a discreet way to vape at school and in public.
Health advocates have worried about the popularity of vaping products among kids and the potential impact on adult smoking rates in the future.
A recent government-commissioned report found ‘substantial evidence’ that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try cigarettes.
Recent research indicates that many do not even know that they are starting a nicotine habit when they use a Juul.
A 2016 survey found that 63 percent of people between 15 and 24 who used a Juul did not realize that all of the companies devices contain addictive nicotine.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency plans additional actions against the company, and others, in coming weeks.
‘This isn’t the only product that we’re looking at, and this isn’t the only action we’re going to be taking to target youth access to tobacco products, and e-cigarettes, in particular,’ Gottlieb said in an interview.
Juul sales have exploded over the past two years and the brand now accounts for 55 percent of the US market for e-cigarettes, according to industry figures. That’s up from just five percent of the market in 2016.
WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT E-CIGARETTES
How they work:
E-cigarettes use a mixture of flavored liquids and nicotine to create a vapor.
This vapor is then inhaled by the user similarly to how one would smoke a regular cigarette.
Are these devices safe?
Since these devices don’t use traditional smoke, people are under the assumption that they are safe for you.
But the liquid in the e-cigarettes can contain harmful toxins and carcinogens including anti-freeze.
The nicotine in the e-cigarettes also had addictive components and can lead to other tobacco use. This can hinder brain development in teens.
Also, the devices can overheat and explode if defective.
The Food and Drug Administration does not certify e-cigarettes as a product to get over smoking regular cigarettes.