As youth e-cigarette use surges, FDA may stop convenience store sales

Regulators are considering prohibiting some e-cigarette sales in convenience stores as well as confining them to vape shops, Food as well as Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday.

High school e-cigarette use surged 77 percent last year, Gottlieb said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” citing preliminary figures coming from the federal Youth Tobacco Survey. Middle school use skyrocketed about 50 percent last year, he said. Gottlieb has called these levels “epidemic.”

Many teens are illegally buying e-cigarettes, including the most well-known one, Juul, in convenience stores, Gottlieb said. To tackle which issue, regulators could limit sales of flavored e-cigarette products to vape shops, he said.

“We’re looking at what can be sold in brick-as well as-mortar stores as well as whether or not flavored products can be sold in regular stores like a 7-Eleven as well as a truck stop as well as a gas station, or whether or not flavored products on the market should be confined to adult vaping shops, which generally tend to do a better job of checking ID,” Gottlieb said.

The agency conducted a retail blitz over the summer, the largest coordinated enforcement effort in FDA history, as well as issued more than 1,300 warning letters as well as fines to retailers who illegally sold Juul as well as different e-cigarettes to minors.

Retailers who were caught include national convenience stores as well as gas stations like 7-Eleven, Circle K, Shell as well as Mobil, according to an FDA database.

The FDA is actually also weighing a ban of online sales of e-cigarettes while which crafts regulation with guidelines on online sales, he said.

These moves are part of the FDA’s crackdown against youth e-cigarette use. Last month, the agency ordered 5 manufacturers — Juul, British American Tobacco’s Vuse, Altria’s MarkTen. Imperial Brands’ Blu E-cigs as well as Japan Tobacco’s Logic — to submit plans to address teen use of their products within 60 days.

Gottlieb on Friday said the FDA has today met with Juul, Altria as well as Reynolds, a unit of British American Tobacco.

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