F.D.A. Moves to Restrict Flavored E-Cigarette Sales to Teenagers

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — With a few weeks left in his tenure as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday moved to restrict sales of flavored e-cigarettes to try to reduce the soaring rate of teenage vaping.

The agency issued a proposal requiring stores to sequester flavored e-cigarettes to areas off limits to anyone under age 18. Retailers, including convenience stores and gas stations, will be expected to verify the age of their customers.

“Evidence shows that youth are especially attracted to flavored e-cigarette products,” Dr. Gottlieb said in a statement, “and that minors are able to access these products from both brick-and-mortar retailers as well as online, despite federal restrictions on sales to anyone under 18.”

The rate of teenage vaping has risen sharply in the last few years, with 3.6 million middle and high school students reporting that they had vaped last year, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But teenage smoking continues to be at record lows, alongside the general decline in smoking rates, a pattern that public health experts warn could be reversed if nicotine addiction spurred by vaping leads young people to traditional tobacco products.

Last fall, the F.D.A. began a crackdown on teenage vaping, threatening to ban most flavored e-cigarettes and warning retailers to stop selling the products to minors. It stopped short of prohibiting the flavors.

But the proposal issued on Wednesday outlines details for how retailers must wall off the areas where the products can be sold. It calls for a physically separated room, a spokesman said, adding that stores cannot simply hang a curtain to create a space where flavored e-cigarettes could be sold.

Retailers, including convenience store and gas station owners, are on Capitol Hill this week, lobbying against the F.D.A.’s proposals. Some have threatened to fight the restrictions in court.

Lyle Beckwith, a senior vice president for the National Association of Convenience Stores representing thousands of retailers, said the group did not believe the F.D.A. had the authority to impose the new requirements. “The Tobacco Control Act clearly indicates they…

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Exec Chairman & Founder of oneQube the leading audience development automation platfrom. Entrepreneur, top 100 most influential angel investors in social media who loves digital innovation, social media marketing. Adventure travel and fishing junkie.
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