SPOKANE, Wash. - The Food and Drug Administration said it will take historic action to combat what it describes ad a new epidemic among American teenagers- the use of e-cigarettes or vape pens.
The products launched into their markets as safer alternatives to cigarettes and as potential quitting tools for long-time smokers. On those fronts, they've seen some success. A study published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine in January showed that e-cigs were useful quitting aids and did prove safer than cigarettes- though the study stopped before deeming them safe, overall.
That study also warned about use of vape pens and e-cigarettes in teenagers and, since then, the FDA has taken several steps to stem the use of e-cigs among minors.
The FDA's own data shows a decline in tobacco use, overall, among teenagers between 2011 and 2017. Still, on Wednesday, the agency announced what it calls its largest coordinated enforcement ever.
Part of that process includes ensuring that teenagers who should not be allowed to purchase e-cigs or vape pens cannot. The agency said it send out several hundred notices to stores for violating age requirements, even fining those who continued to sell to minors.
Joey Blodgett, who manages Sublime Vapor, said he and his staff carry out ID checks as quickly as possible when a customer enters their store.
Blodgett told kxly he disagreed with the characterization of e-cig and vape pen use as 'epidemic,' citing low numbers of young returning customers as the effects of a fad.
FDA also says the issue should, in part, be addressed from a communications standpoint. teenagers might be restricted by age from buying the products, but e-cigs and vape pens are heavily entrenched in popular culture and on social media websites.
The FDA has given manufacturing companies 60 days to find a way to curb usage of vape pens and e-cogs by minors, or those companies could face legal action.
To see Spokane County Healthy Use survey results from 2016 tracking use of e-cigs and vape pens, click here.
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