But on Wednesday, when FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned e-cigarette makers on new regulation if they do not work to control to the accelerating trajectory of flavored e-cigarette usage among youths, Big Tobacco stocks skyrocketed.
In a press release, the FDA explained that it issued 1,300 warning letters to manufacturers and fines to stores who sold Juul and other e-cigarettes illegally to underage kids.
In April, JUUL sent thousands of pages of records to be reviewed by the FDA - but apparently, it didn't bode well for the nicotine king.
In the letters, the agency is demanding that within 60 days, these companies, namely Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, blu e-cigs and Logic, present proof that they are able to keep the nicotine-containing products out of the hands of minors.
The FDA singled out Juul in its press release, saying that the company's products are especially popular among, and unsafe for, high school students.
"Nicotine can be harmful to the still-developing brain of an adolescent", said Mitchell Zeller, the Director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products.
"The action FDA threatened to "consider" using against the manufacturers of five e-cigarette brands - removing certain products that are clearly aimed at youth from the market - is the very authority the American Lung Association has urged the FDA to actively use, broadly". Now the FDA has conducted 978,290 retail inspections, issued 77,180 warning letters to retailers for violating the law and initiated approximately 18,560 civil money penalty cases, as of September 1, 2018.
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Gottlieb said the FDA identified the influence this can non-public on adults attempting to cease smoking, but said that emerging overview on how flavored merchandise assist excessive employ by children shows action may perchance perchance simply level-headed be taken. E-cigarettes are by far the most popular tobacco product among teens. As long as some retailers are careless, some adults are willing to buy e-cigarettes on behalf of minors, and some teenagers manage to swipe them from parents or older siblings, there will be leakage from the adult market.
However, there is little consensus about how to regulate the industry. Short of that, he suggests the FDA might force companies to stop offering e-liquid flavors that appeal to minors, which are an important factor in quit attempts by adult smokers.
STEIN: Yeah, so the companies that make these products, they say, look; you know, we don't think kids should be using them either.
The said that doesn't mean e-cigarettes are benign, and officials are anxious about vaping's impact on young people's brains. Camel maker British American Tobacco's shares jumped 6 percent.
Ana Navas-Acien, a Columbia University professor who also tracks the issue, said some form of government regulation is needed "as companies are unlikely to implement voluntary strategies to effectively cut use among youth".
On Tuesday, Gottlieb said the FDA could just as easily change its approach. Although the FDA had acted in May to limit the sale of such products, they were still being offered, with the offending labeling and advertising, by the 12 online retailers, several of whom were also cited for sales to minors. The academy said Gottlieb has the authority to intervene in the market to protect minors, and any further delay runs the risk that "a generation of young people will become addicted to these risky products". He also said the agency is "considering the immediate removal ... from the market" of e-cigarette flavorings that cater to underage users.
Ultimately, such a move could push Big Tobacco back into the lead in the e-cig market, analysts said Wednesday. "Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes".