The FDA has released proposed regulations on the retail sale of flavored electronic cigarette products and a proposed ban on menthol cigarettes.
Early reports suggested the FDA would prohibit convenience stores from selling flavored vaping e-cigarette products. An initial reading of the proposal suggests the agency is calling for vaping flavors (melon, cucumber, etc.) to be sold only in age-restricted stores, stores where there is an age restricted area, or in retail stores without age restricted access but out of sight from customers (i.e. under the counter). It also appears that the agency will not impose new restrictions on unflavored or menthol vaping products.
“Sound regulation should ensure that e-cigarettes are sold responsibly and that the market is a level playing field,” says Lyle Beckwith, NACS SVP of government relations. “If enforcement shows that businesses are not following the law, then appropriate penalties should be imposed. We are reviewing the FDA’s proposal carefully and want to ensure that any final policy reflects these important principles. We urge the FDA to share any information they have demonstrating that its proposal will improve age verification on e-cigarette sales.”
Regarding FDA’s proposed ban of menthol cigarettes, Beckwith added, “There is an existing market for menthol cigarettes today, and banning them will only shift those sales to the black market. Black-market sellers of tobacco products do not check the ages of their purchasers, do not pay taxes on their sales, and sell more than just menthol cigarettes. NACS urges FDA to implement a plan to stop the current black market and prevent a new one before prohibiting a product that we know will result in large numbers of new black-market sales.”
NACS says it is thoroughly reviewing the FDA’s proposal and will send its members a complete analysis as more information becomes available.
CVS Health applauds the changes
CVS Health, the nation’s first and only national pharmacy chain to have eliminated the sale of tobacco products from its retail stores, has announced its support for FDA’s plans to restrict access to flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products in the retail setting and impose stricter age-verification requirements for online sales.
In addition to eliminating the sale of tobacco products in 2014, CVS has never sold e-cigarettes or vaping devices in any of its CVS Pharmacy locations.
“We applaud the FDA’s decision to restrict access to flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products, which have been expertly marketed and targeted at teens and young adults and has contributed to a dramatic rise in e-cigarette use among high school students,” said Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. and chief medical officer for CVS Health. “E-cigarette use among teens has also been directly correlated to a spike in cigarette smoking, after reaching historic lows. Through these new regulations, the FDA can help curb the e-cigarette epidemic and make a positive impact on public health for generations to come.”
CVS Health recently turned its focus to educating young people on the dangers of smoking and the use of e-cigarettes. Following its tobacco exit in 2014, CVS Health launched Be The First, a five-year, $50 million initiative to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.
Through partnerships with Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CATCH Global Foundation, Stanford Medicine and Truth Initiative, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation are funding and supporting several programs that educate students on e-cigarettes and help them build knowledge and skills to resist peer pressure and marketing influences to try e-cigarettes. Most recently, the company launched a campaign with DoSomething.org to empower young people to speak up against e-cigarette flavoring and marketing toward youth.