FDA crackdowns on businesses selling e-cigarettes to minors

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Food and Drug Administration conducted its most substantial enforcement effort yet this summer to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors.

The FDA announced over 1,300 businesses received warnings or a fine after illegally selling JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors.

Nicole Calvillo who is a physician with Kaiser Permanente said many adults turn to vaping as an alternative to smoking cigarettes.

"We know nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet," she said.

Calvillo was glad to see the FDA is taking significant steps to prevent teens from getting addicted, especially since there is not much known about the long-term effects.

With the e-cigarettes, there is not a lot known about the harmful effects, but it looks like it's a cleaner version, and cleaner to a middle schooler might mean it's safe and but we know don't this it is," Calvillo explained.

In the FDA's most recent study they find 1 in 5 high school students, and 1 in 18 middle school students use tobacco. The most common method for minors was an e-cigarette with 2.1 million middle and high school users.

Calvillo is not surprised at those numbers but said it's alarming, "We don't even know about all the other products that are in it. Just like with regular cigarettes we didn't know about all the added carcinogens that are in cigarettes until much later."

She added the packaging and flavors also appeal to kids.

The FDA announced they also gave out warnings to 12 online retailers were still selling products, that were no longer allowed to be sold, with misleading labels that appealed to kids such as candy.

Earlier this year the FDA sent letters to JUUL Labs and other companies to submit documents to learn why their products are so popular with the youth.

Kevin Burns, who is the chief executive officer for JUUL Labs said in a statement on Wednesday:
"JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request. We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people. Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes. Appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch. By working together, we believe we can help adult smokers while preventing access to minors, and we will continue to engage with the FDA to fulfill our mission."

This latest sting was not the only one done this year to target illegal sales to minors. Earlier this year several businesses received warnings, including Empire Smoke in Fresno.

Yahya Alkhanshali said they took the warning seriously and have made changes.

"We just enforce more on I.D.s for everybody even our regular customers, because the majority of our customers are college students," he explained.
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