FDA to ban flavored e-cigarettes at USA convenience stores

FDA's Center for Tobacco Products

However, if it goes through, the ban could make a significant dent in overall sales as menthol cigarettes account for about 35 percent of all sales in the U.S. Major tobacco companies, including Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Altria did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment on the ban.

The FDA also plans to seek a ban on menthol cigarettes, a longtime goal of public health advocates, as well as flavored cigars.

The restrictions are mainly aimed at reducing smoking in kids: About half of teens who smoke cigarettes choose menthols and flavored e-cigarettes have been blamed for a recent increase in teen vaping rates.

Anti-tobacco and public health groups commended the FDA on its proposed ban on menthol cigarettes, which data show are far more popular among young smokers and particularly young African-Americans. In September, the FDA gave e-cigarette makers 60 days to prove they weren't targeting minors with their marketing. But many versions contain potentially addictive nicotine, and health officials believe they set kids who try them on a path toward regular cigarettes.

"Moreover, I recognize that combustible cigarettes are still sold in menthol flavor, including in convenience stores".

Smoking is the nation's leading cause of preventable illness, causing more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States.

The move comes more than two years after the FDA released its final proposed deeming rule extending its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco on May 5, 2016.

Gottlieb's proposal for e-cigarette flavorings also exempts menthol. The expectation was based on the FDA's move to ban flavored cigarettes in 2009 - one of its first tobacco regulations handed down after Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. But after an aggressive lobbying effort by tobacco companies, menthol was exempted.

The agency has faced mounting pressure to act on e-cigarettes amid their surging popularity among US teenagers in recent years.

Menthol cigarettes represent more than 30 percent of US cigarette volumes and approximately 55 percent of British American Tobacco Plc's USA volumes, through its Newport brand, according to a research note from AllianceBernstein earlier this week.

More than 3 million high school students, or more than 20 percent of all USA high school students, used the products, along with 570,000 middle school students, according to the survey. Getting out ahead of today's FDA announcement, Juul on Tuesday stopped filling store orders for mango, fruit, creme and cucumber pods and will resume sales only to retailers that scan IDs and take other steps to verify a buyer is at least 21.

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