The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cracking down on smoking, but not what is traditionally considered smoking. The agency is going after e-cigarette manufacturers, as teen smokers (vapers) have reached epidemic levels.
Last Friday, the FDA conducted a raid on one of the headquarters of top e-cigarette producer, Juul Labs, seizing “thousands of pages of documents.” The agency is targeting Juul to further explore if the company is targeting youths with its marketing.
In September, the agency demanded that Juul and four other competitors construct plans to fight the epidemic of young smokers. If these companies failed to do so, the FDA has threatened to pull some or all of their flavored products from store shelves.
One aspect of the agency’s plan has entailed increased enforcement. The more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers were part of a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors at both brick-and-mortar and online retailers, and it was conducted from June through the end of August.
Juul currently owns roughly 75% of the e-cig market. Vaping exploded on the scene a couple years ago, with Juul’s sales jumping 641% between 2016 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Youth use of e-cigarettes increased by 75% between 2017 and 2018, according to early reports of not-yet-published federal data, which would mean about 20% of U.S. high schoolers, or some 3 million teenagers, vape. The FDA does not have data about which brands are used by teenagers, but the agency plans to add a question specifically about Juuling to the 2019 version of the National Youth Tobacco Survey.