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PHOTO COURTESY / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declares e-cigarette use an epidemic
September 20, 2018
The Food and Drug Administration declared on September 12th that teenage use of electronic cigarettes has reached “an epidemic proportion.” The agency notified the makers of the most popular devices that they have only 60 days to prove they can keep their devices away from minors by eliminating marketing targeted at the under-18 demographic. They must also alter their branding to fit the intended demographic: smokers who are trying to quit.
This order was part of a sweeping government action that targeted to both makers and sellers of e-cigarettes. If Juul and four other major manufacturers fail to stop selling to minors, the agency will remove their flavored products from the market. This has also raised the possibility of civil and criminal charges if companies allow bulk sales through their websites.
The FDA stated it was sending warning letters to 1,100 retailers, including 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Circle K convenience shops, and Shell gas stations; the administration has issued 131 fines for selling e-cigarettes to minors, ranging from $279 to $11,182.
Each day, nearly 3,200 people under the of age of 18 smoke their first cigarette. Teens today are more likely to smoke an e-cigarette than a regular cigarette, says the Surgeon General’s Report. In the past year, 13.3% of 8th graders, 23.9% of tenth graders, and 27.8% of 12th graders have been reported to use e-cigarettes.
Smoking e-cigarettes can cause addiction and long-term brain effects. Since the body is not fully developed during adolescence, the risks are greater. The brain is not completely developed until the age of 25. The risks of using a Juul or other similar devices include nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and permanent lowering of impulse control. Nicotine also changes the way synapses are formed, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning. Some evidence even suggests that e-cigarettes use is linked to alcohol use and other substance use, such as marijuana. These effects can not only be damaging to a student’s health but also to their grades and their future.
The FDA is trying to decrease the number of teens using these products, since they are so easy to get. It is prohibited by federal law to sell Juuls to anyone under the age of 18, and the FDA is working to ensure that these devices stay out of minors’ hands.