E-cigarette maker JUUL faced surprise FDA inspection amid underage use concerns

E-cigarette maker JUUL faced surprise FDA inspection amid underage use concerns

The surprise inspection sought information on sales and marketing practices of the company's devices, which have become wildly popular among underage users.

The product is shaped like a USB drive and each starter pack is flavored with mango, fruit and cucumber. According to Juul, the vaping device is "a true alternative" to cigarettes for adults.

Vaping defenders say flavours are critical to helping adult smokers switch from more unsafe combustible cigarettes to safer e-cigarettes. A recent government-commissioned report found "substantial evidence" that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try cigarettes.

That's the sales pitch made by Juul and many other e-cigarette manufacturers: "Juul delivers nicotine satisfaction akin to a cigarette in a format that's as simple and easy to use", states the company's website.

Along with the Juul phenomenon, a new wave of lower-priced Juul knockoffs are showing up at convenience stores, vape shops and online, despite an FDA rule that banned the sale of new e-cigarettes after August 2016 without regulatory approval.

"While it remains unclear whether e-cigarettes can actually help adults quit smoking cigarettes, it is abundantly clear that tobacco companies are developing and marketing e-cigarette flavors that appeal to, and addict, children", the senators said in the letter.

Federal regulators are stepping up scrutiny of e-cigarettes amid an alarming increase in the rate of youth use of the devices.

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Earlier this year, the USA senators introduced a bill to sharply restrict e-cigarette flavours unless companies produced evidence that the flavours helped adults quit smoking conventional cigarettes and did not increase youth taking up nicotine or tobacco products.

He said Juul is being transparent and said that since April, the company has released more 50,000 pages of documents to the FDA. "The meetings last week with FDA gave us the opportunity to provide information about our business from our marketing practices to our industry-leading online age-verification protocols to our youth prevention efforts".

"As part of FDA's ongoing efforts to prevent youth use of tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes, last week the agency conducted an unannounced on-site inspection of e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Lab's corporate headquarters", the agency said in a statement.

At the time, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the current "blitz" targeting Juul would continue through the end of September.

Last month, the FDA told the makers of the five top-selling e-cigarette brands - Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, blu e-cigarettes and Logic - that they had to submit plans within 60 days outlining how they'll tackle youth access and use of their products.

"Juuling", along with "vaping", has become a common term for e-cigarette use by teenagers on social media and at US high schools. "It is vital that we take action to understand and address the particular appeal of, and ease of access to, these products among kids".

Earlier this year, FDA also conducted inspections of several of Juul's contract manufacturing facilities.

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