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FDA proposes stricter rules for flavored e-cigarettes

The measures could remove e-cigarette products that attract kids.
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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

After months of talking about limiting flavored e-cigarettes, the FDA ready to take more definitive action. The regulator has unveiled draft rules that would let it restrict sales of e-cigs with flavors that could appeal to kids (that is, everything outside of menthol, mint and tobacco). It would "prioritize" enforcement on sales of those flavors in ways that make them easily accessible to or enticing for kids. This could include retail stores where kids can walk in at any time, online stores with weak quantity limits and products whose look and flavor could appeal to the younger crowd.

The FDA is also moving up the deadline for market applications to August 8th, 2021, or a full year earlier than in a previous proposal.

Commissioner Scott Gottlieb isn't shy about the potential impact of the new rules. Some flavored e-cigs would be sold only through methods that prevent sales to kids, he said, while some flavors might leave the market altogether. The FDA also wouldn't rule out taking action if there's a surge in youth demand for 'plain' e-cigarettes.

The rules are open to public comment for the next 30 days. If they're finalized as-is, they could have a significant impact on where you can buy flavored e-cigs -- you might not see them in convenience stores, for instance. Not that the FDA is likely to shed a tear. It has accused brands like Juul of undercutting attempts to curb teen e-cig use, and it clearly feels that tougher rules are necessary to keep vendors in check.

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