FDA seeks to prevent youth access to flavored tobacco products and ban menthol in cigarettes

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb proposed Thursday having all flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems—excluding tobacco, mint, and menthol flavors—sold in age-restricted, in-person locations and with increased age verification practices for online sales.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb proposed Thursday having all flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems—excluding tobacco, mint, and menthol flavors—sold in age-restricted, in-person locations and with increased age verification practices for online sales. New FDA and CDC data show that, from 2017 to 2018, there was a 78% increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48% increase among middle school students, reversing years of positive trends in the effort to prevent youth addiction to tobacco products. "The policies I'm outlining now strive to strike a careful public health balance between our imperative to enable the opportunities to transition to non-combustible products to be available for adults; and our solemn mandate to make nicotine products less accessible and less appealing to children," Gottlieb said. "The data make unmistakably clear that, if we're to break the cycle of addiction to nicotine, preventing youth initiation on nicotine is a paramount imperative." FDA will also advance a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would seek to ban menthol in combustible tobacco products, including cigarettes and cigars. Gottlieb said that "menthol-flavored products represent one of the most common and pernicious routes by which kids initiate on combustible cigarettes," noting that the flavor helps to "mask some of the unattractive features of smoking that might otherwise discourage a child from smoking" and stating "that menthol products disproportionately and adversely affect underserved communities."