US convenience stores could soon be banned from selling flavoured vaping devices and e-liquids, unless they carry out costly internal refits, as part of tough new measures to curb “the epidemic” of teenage use in the country.
The proposals, tabled by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state that flavoured vaping products should only be sold from closed off areas that are inaccessible to under 18s.
They come as the US 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed a 78% increase in current e-cig use among high school students in the past year, with 67.8% using flavoured e-cigs.
In the UK, Public Health England estimates that regular use of vaping products by secondary school children is currenly limited to about 1%.
Announcing the proposals, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said new data also proved that children using e-cigs were “more likely to try combustible cigarettes later”.
“These increases must stop. And the bottom line is this: I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigs,” he said.
“We won’t let this pool of kids, a pool of future potential smokers, of future disease and death, to continue to build. We’ll take whatever action is necessary to stop these trends from continuing.”
The FDA is seeking to “protect kids” by having all flavoured electronic products, “such as cherry, vanilla, crème, tropical, melon,” sold in age-restricted, “in-person locations.”
Tobacco, mint and menthol flavours would be excluded from the display ban, as would stand-alone retailers such as vape shops that “adequately prevented persons under the age of 18 from entering the store at any time”.
NACS said it was reviewing the proposals carefully.
“Sound regulation should ensure that e-cigarettes are sold responsibly and that the market is a level playing field,” Lyle Beckwith, NACS senior vice president of government relations said.
“If enforcement shows that businesses are not following the law, then appropriate penalties should be imposed.
“We urge the FDA to share any information it has demonstrating that its proposal will improve age verification on e-cigarette sales.”
At the same time the FDA has also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking to ban menthol in tobacco cigarettes and cigars in a further bid to curb teen use of combustible tobacco.
“This policy framework reflects a re-doubling of the FDA’s efforts to protect kids from all nicotine-containing products,” Gottlieb added.
“They also reflect a very careful public health balance that we’re trying to achieve.
“A balance between closing the on-ramp for kids to become addicted to nicotine through combustible and non-combustible products, while maintaining access to potentially less harmful forms of nicotine delivery through electronic devices for adult smokers seeking to transition away from combustible tobacco products.”