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13 September 2018, 07:59 | Rodolfo Wallace
Credit Gabby Jones Bloomberg
The health department said 19 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes.
Gottlieb called the action the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the agency's history.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said that e-cigarettes, while still harmful, may be effective for adults who want to give up cigarette smoking, which kills nearly half a million Americans each year.
The FDA told five major e-cigarette manufacturers Wednesday to come up with ways to address youth use in 60 days or the agency could require them to stop selling flavored products that appeal to children.
Budding research on e-cigarettes also suggests that these flavors contain terpenes that may be more damaging to the lungs than other flavors are.
"Even though a 2017 BPS Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows the overall percentage of district students who reported using electronic cigarettes declined by 9 percent, we are always concerned about students engaging in risky behaviors", BPS said in an April letter to the community.
State health department officials continue to be anxious about JUUL, a device that looks like a flash drive, which they say dominates more than 70 percent of the e-cigarette market.
Gottlieb is remarkably cavalier about throwing adult smokers under the bus in the name of preventing adolescents from experimenting with e-cigarettes. He said in June tobacco companies "better step up and step up soon" but he didn't divulge what consequences the industry could face - until now.
As part of its plan of action to address the epidemic, the FDA also sent more than 1,300 warning letters to stores for the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to minors and issued another 131 civil money penalties to stores that continued to violate the restrictions on sales to minors.
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"We need to go further", said Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist who has worked for years to reduce tobacco use.
Other studies have indicated that while e-cigarettes may have milder effects on the lungs, they are just as bad - if not worse - for the cardiovascular system, raising risks of heart disease and high blood pressure.
These levels of nicotine are highly addictive, particularly to the developing brains of children and teenagers.
If the plans fall short, the FDA could block sales of the products by enforcing a requirement that companies provide detailed design and health data about their products before marketing them.
Several of the manufacturers targeted by the FDA - Juul, MarkTen, Vuse, Blu and Logic - issued statements agreeing with the need to limit access to minors and announcing their willingness to work with the FDA to reach a solution.
In a statement, VTA Executive Director Tony Abboud asked: "Does FDA really want millions of Americans to return to smoking cigarettes?" But it added that "appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch", spokeswoman Victoria Davis said.
The FDA is in the process of rolling out a sweeping anti-smoking initiative created to make it easier for smokers to quit by cutting the nicotine levels in regular cigarettes.
In April the agency launched a Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, created to address some of the known public health risks, such as flavors, that contribute to adolescent use of e-cigarettes.
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