The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a new ban on the manufacture, distribution, and sale of unauthorized fruit and mint-flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes. The new policy goes into effect in 30 days and could result in enforcement action by the FDA if not complied with.

“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “HHS is taking a comprehensive, aggressive approach to enforcing the law passed by Congress, under which no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally.

“By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as a potential off-ramp for adults using combustible tobacco while ensuring these products don’t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth. We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary,” he added.

The new policy comes as the National Youth Tobacco Survey indicated that more than 5 million U.S. middle and high school students currently use e-cigarettes or have used them in the last 30 days. The study also suggested that cartridge-based products are the “usual brand” used by these students.

A federal survey also mentioned by the FDA said that youths are more attracted to e-cigarette flavors such as fruit and mint, more than they are attracted to tobacco- or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes.

Based on the data that the FDA compiled in regards to youths and e-cigarette smoking, the agency found that it does put these individuals at risk for nicotine addiction and affects brain development compared to non-users.

Under the new law, the FDA said it will take action against e-cigarette companies that target minors or fail to prevent access to minors for their products, in addition to those that continue to sell, distribute, and manufacture flavored e-cigarettes except menthol and tobacco flavors.

E-cigarettes have soared in popularity among young people since they were introduced in the 2000s
E-cigarettes have soared in popularity among young people since they were introduced in the 2000s AFP / EVA HAMBACH