The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday ordered e-cigarette company Juul to stop selling its products in the United States.The order is not limited to only Juul’s e-cigarettes but to every product manufactured by Juul.
The wide popularity of Juul’s products on American youth captured the attention of anti-smoking groups and regulators who feared the products would endanger the lives of young people.
In India, e-cigarettes were banned in 2019 after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman shared similar concerns which were pointed out by the Group of Ministers (GoM) tasked to research the health hazards of e-cigarettes.
Three years later, the US FDA took a similar stance like that of India but only with regard to Juul.Other vaping companies like the rival e-cigarette makers British American Tobacco and NJOY are allowed to sell their products.
The FDA said Juul gave insufficient or conflicting data about the potential risks of using the company’s products.The regulatory body also said that Juul did not give data on whether the Juul pods would leach out harmful chemicals.
Anti-vaping advocates also point to additive nicotine in some e-cigarette brands like Puff Bars which have fruity flavors and are popular amongst teenagers.
“Today’s action is further progress on the FDA’s commitment to ensuring that all e-cigarette and electronic nicotine delivery system products currently being marketed to consumers meet our public health standards… Without the data needed to determine relevant health risks, the FDA is issuing these marketing denial orders,” FDA commissioner Dr.Robert M.Califf said in a statement, while acknowledging that e-cigarettes played a role in the spike in teenage vaping.
Juul Chief Regulatory Officer Joe Murillo said the company will appeal for a stay on the decision and is exploring options.“We respectfully disagree with the FDA’s findings and decision and continue to believe we have provided sufficient information and data based on high-quality research to address all issues raised by the agency,” his statement said.
The recent move is FDA’s part of a broader effort to reduce lives lost to smoking and tobacco products.It faces a behemoth in the form of the tobacco lobby in its mission coupled with the now enraged vaping lobby as well.
According to the The New York Times, the head of the American Vapor Manufacturers Association (AVMA) lashed out at the FDA after Juul was ordered to keep its products off the shelves.
“Measured in lives lost and potential destroyed, FDA.’s staggering indifference to ordinary Americans and their right to switch to the vastly safer alternative of vaping will surely rank as one of the greatest episodes of regulatory malpractice in American history,” AVMA president Amanda Wheeler said in a statement.
Juul came into FDA’s notice when the former started a probe into its ads where attractive young models were used to advertise flavors such as cool cucumber and creme brulee which critics said attracted underage users.
Juul also paid compensation and millions of dollars in damages after several states accused it of luring underage users.
The FDA is also mulling a ban on on menthol-flavored cigarettes and slashing nicotine levels in traditional cigarettes as a way to discourage use of cigarettes.
(with inputs from CNBC and the New York Times)
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