Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA, announced Monday’s “historic action” against more than 1,300 retailers and 5 major manufacturers — Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, blu e-cigs, and Logic — for their roles in causing the problem that led to an epidemic of abuse.
“I use the word epidemic with great care,” Gottlieb said. “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”
On a broader level, FDA has threatened banning the manufacture of flavored nicotine liquid, and even proposed an industry-wide outlawing of all e-cigarette products, as well as potentially requiring manufacturers to undergo periodic safety reviews.
FDA was initially prepared to embrace the electronic cigarette industry as a potential vehicle for traditional cigarette smokers trying to wean off the tit, but after considering the phenomenon of their abuse by children, as well as hundreds of reports of catastrophic e-cig explosions and a potential life-threatening side effect known as bronchitis obliterans, the agency has since changed its tune about the devices.
Between Jan. 2009 and Dec. 31, 2016, at least 195 separate incidents of explosion
and/or fire involving an electronic cigarette were reported in the U.S., resulting in 133 acute injuries (38 of which were considered to be severe), according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency has attributed the vast majority of these “devastating and life-altering” incidents to defective or shoddily built lithium-ion batteries
Bronchitis obliterans, or popcorn lung, is an irreversible and potentially life-threatening lung condition first observed in workers at popcorn plants. Studies later found that a chemical used to improve the buttery taste of microwave popcorn, diacetyl, was the cause of the workers’ disease. E-cigarettes and vapes also contain diacetyl to improve their products’ flavorings, such as vanilla, maple, coconut and more.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that 39 of 51 e-cigarette brands contained diacetyl. The study also found 2 similarly harmful chemicals—2,3 pentanedione and acetoin—present in 23 and 46 of the 51 flavors it tested. About 92% of the e-cigarettes had 1 of the 3 chemicals present, according to the researchers.