U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that his agency is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth,” he said.
The FDA is finalizing guidelines to restrict all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, in the next 30 days. However, it could take months for retailers to fully adjust to the changes.
Companies might be able to reintroduce their flavors, but they must submit a formal application and receive approval from the FDA.
The new rules would require flavored e-cigarettes to be sold by retailers that prohibit people under the age of 18. That would effectively ban most flavored products from convenience stores and gas stations while permitting them in tobacco and vape shops.
The FDA will also pursue bans on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, according Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who cited data from the from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention showing that 3.6 million middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes.
The restrictions come after doctors scrambled to find out what was causing an outbreak of mysterious lung illnesses that sickened hundreds and killed at least 6 people.