EDITORIAL: Let's extinguish e-cigarette industry's targeting of teens


When millions of kids and teens are at risk of becoming nicotine addicts, the feds certainly ought to get tough.

The Food and Drug Administration rightly took a hard line with the five largest makers of flavored e-cigarettes, giving them 60 days to come up with plans to curb underage use of the increasingly popular devices — or risk having them pulled from the market.

“The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth and the resulting path to addiction must end,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

EDITORIAL

A deadline for action is sorely needed, given that more than 2 million middle school and high school students used flavored e-cigarettes last year. “Vaping,” as it’s called, is indeed an epidemic, as the FDA asserts.

Any manufacturer that won’t outline concrete steps to keep its product out of the hands of kids has no business making a profit from those products. Especially given new evidence that vaping is a gateway to regular tobacco use.

A government-commissioned study from earlier this year found that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to end up smoking regular cigarettes as they get older.

The FDA still says e-cigarettes can be a big help to adults who want to quit smoking, and that’s important. We favor any tool that helps people quit a potentially deadly habit. And if any adult for any reason wants to head to the nearest vaping bar or chooses to use e-cigarettes, that’s his or her business.

Our concern is with protecting kids and teens.

E-cigarette manufacturers insist they’re doing their level best not to target young people. The problem is they also insist in selling e-cigarettes in “fun” flavors.

Or, as one 20-something man blithely explained to us: “Everyone knows they’re for high school kids.”

E-cigarette manufacturers fight age limits on sales. (Gov. Rauner recently vetoed an Illinois bill that would have raised the age for purchasing tobacco and related products, including e-cigarettes, to 21.)

They oppose a ban on kid-friendly flavors, such as candy and bubble-gum.

They oppose making e-cigarettes available only by prescription, even as they insist their only interest is in helping adult cigarette smokers quit.

We’re in agreement with the FDA — the Trump administration’s FDA — on this one. America doesn’t need another generation of nicotine addicts.

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