The FDA considered going further with its ban and applying it to menthol and mint flavors as well, but is said to have felt that move would have encouraged consumers to instead use menthol cigarettes instead. In recent interviews, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged that adult consumers would be impacted by the FDA’s move to curb teenage vaping and e-cigarette use. Restricting access to smoking alternatives is a price that the FDA is willing to pay in its efforts to address the popularity and increasing use of e-cigarette products among minors.
As a response to the expected flavor restrictions, e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Labs Inc. has already announced that it will be pulling some of its flavored products from brick-and-mortar retailers [read more here]. This will be a costly move with flavored e-cigarette products accounting for over half of the company’s sales. Those retailers who have found e-cigarette products like JUUL’s flavored pods will also be negatively impacted by any flavor ban of e-cigarettes with the sale of traditional combustible tobacco products being on a steady decline. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking in the U.S. was down to just 14 percent in 2017, making new product categories like e-cigarettes and vaping crucial to tobacco manufacturers and retailers.
The FDA is expected to make formal announcements about e-cigarettes, flavors and menthol as early as mid-November 2018.
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