FDA cracks down on sales of Juul tobacco products to minors

E-cigarettes are among the products made by Juul Labs Inc. (Reuters pic)

SILVER SPRING: The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said it launched a crackdown on the sale of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to minors, particularly those developed by Juul Labs Inc.

The regulator said it had issued 40 warning letters to retailers, including multiple 7-Eleven stores, for violations regarding illegal sales of Juul products after uncovering violations through compliance checks since the beginning of March.

“The FDA has been conducting a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes – specifically Juul products – to minors at both brick-and-mortar and online retailers,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, commended the FDA’s action, but said the regulator must do more “by taking off the market Juul flavors like mango and cool cucumber that clearly appeal to kids”.

E-cigarettes are handheld electronic devices that vaporise a fluid typically including nicotine and a flavour component. They have been taking market share away from traditional tobacco companies and are available in different flavors.

The FDA said that such products are also more difficult for parents and teachers to recognise or detect, potentially adding to its appeal for the youth.

Juul Labs, launched in 2015, brands its products as an alternative for adult smokers. The San Francisco-based firm offers a number of products designed for tobacco as an alternative to ordinary cigarettes, including e-cigarettes and vaporisers.

Juul in a statement said it agreed “with the FDA that illegal sales of our product to minors is unacceptable” and would announce “more aggressive plans” regarding the violations in the coming days.

The FDA also said eBay Inc removed several listings of Juul products after the regulator raised concerns.