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FDA threatens e-cigarette manufacturers as "path to addiction" for teens

(IMAGE: WPMI) FDA threatens e-cigarette manufacturers as "path to addiction" for teens

The FDA is threatening manufacturers and stores that sell e-cigarettes to kids.

The industry has two months to show how they'll keep the devices out of young people's hands, or the FDA will ban their products.

Vaping stores are popping up everywhere, it’s a lucrative business. Owners we talked to say they don’t sell to minors, but the big question is, is the FDA's threat just hot air?

The FDA is calling it a path to addiction for teenagers and it's threatening to pull flavored nicotine used for vaping off the market.

Zack Carpenter owns and operates "Cyclops Vapor" the largest e-liquid manufacturer in Alabama and one of the top 20 in the country. His vaping products are made and shipped out of Daphne.

"Its our main focus is getting people another option to get away from smoking. If you don’t smoke we don’t want you as a customer," said Carpenter.

Carpenter says Alabama has no industry monitoring agency. It's self-regulated and the FDA has never set foot inside his facility.

"They don’t we send them a letter, we fill out a little thing online once a year and "here's what we're doing, here's what we sell" and that about the gist of it," said Carpenter

Retailers know better than to sell to teens under the age of 18.In Alabama it's 19. Finding these products online is still pretty common even with age "safe guards" and passwords.

"There's just circles of people in the bathrooms taking a hit from the Juul. It happens all day, every day," said high school senior Brenden Dye.

We met up with local teens at an anti-drug and alcohol workshop in Mobile. The talk of the day was about a device known as a Juul. It's one of the five manufacturers the FDA has targeted this week.

Virginia Guy with the Drug Education Council says the "thumb drive" looking device is a favorite among kids.

"Putting nicotine in a device like this is kind of making it cool again, and that's what's concerning to me," said Guy.

"I'm happy to see that they are starting to focus on how to stop these small devices from getting in the hands of children. I hear it I’ve got at 15 year old daughter that I hear it from," said Carpenter.

The FDA says it plans to unveil a new e-cigarette public education campaign targeted to teenagers next week.

A spokesperson with JUUL issued the following statement to NBC 15 after this story aired:

We cannot be more emphatic on this point: no minor or non-smoker/vaper should ever use JUUL products. Underage use is directly opposed to our mission of eliminating combustible cigarettes by offering the world's one billion existing adult smokers a true alternative. That is why we have taken numerous actions to prevent and combat underage use, including focusing our website and social media exclusively on the adult smoker community and removing all product-related content from our social media accounts. Since 99.7 percent of JUUL mentions on Twitter are generated by other users, we have also aggressively worked with social media platforms to remove posts and accounts that portray our product in unauthorized and youth-oriented manners. In just six months this year, we helped remove over 8,000 listings, 450 accounts and 18,000 online marketplace listings. We stand committed to working with those who want to keep nicotine products out of the hands of young people.
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