Alec Stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

In September 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued more than 1,100 warning letters and fines to retailers and issued 131 fines for selling vaping pod products to minors. The agency also told manufacturers that the industry has 60 days to provide a plan to limit underage access to these products or face penalties.

Vaping has become a cool, trending, accessible method for nicotine delivery, especially among younger users. It’s been advertised as a way to smoke without smoking, and that message is resonating with teenagers who are flocking to vaping pods used by manufacturers like Juul e-cigarettes.

Vaping pods, originally touted as a step-down therapy for traditional smokers, still contain a level of nicotine that’s highly addictive to users. A recent study among teenagers using pod-style e-cigarettes found that adolescents have higher levels of nicotine in their bodies than those who smoked regular cigarettes. The pods contain a condensed version of previous vaping systems and have a higher potency because of it.

“I still believe that there are opportunities to move adult smokers down that ladder of harm using e-cigarettes,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement that accompanied the enforcement actions. “But the FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products.”

As a leading proponent for tobacco regulation, the FDA commissioner has been an advocate for smoking cessation and continued oversight of the tobacco industry. The FDA is making it more difficult to market tobacco products, especially those like e-cigarettes that target minors.