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The FDA noted that, over the past few years, e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product by youth. The products being targeted are: Juul, Altria Group Inc.'s MarkTen, Fontem Ventures's blu, British American Tobacco's Vuse and Logic. "These five brands now comprise over 97 percent of the US market for e-cigarettes", the FDA said. They noted the survey did not ask specifically about Juul, a sleek, heavily-marketed e-cigarette brand that exploded onto the market and accounts for 70 percent of USA sales, according to analyst estimates. The four others are owned by cigarette companies.

Big tobacco has yet to find a productive way to meaningfully compete against Juul, making the FDA's move a positive for the companies, according to Cowen analyst Vivien Azer.

"We welcome FDA's action today and look forward to sharing our thoughts about how to prevent and reduce youth use, an issue we have focused on for decades", Altria spokesman George Parman said in a statement.

However, Gottlieb claims e-cigarette brands haven't done enough to stop kids from using the products.

The FDA sent 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers in "a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors". As a result, they've asked the manufacturers of vaping products to act - otherwise, their products might be prohibited from sale. The agency issued 12 warning letters to companies that it says have deceptive marketing labels on e-liquids.

Gottlieb cited preliminary data that has not yet been published, but which he said shows "youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply".

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"We must do more to stem what I see as an epidemic of use of e-cigs among teens, and deeply disturbing trends that show no sign of abating", he said.

Also, the agency is probing manufacturer's online shops for "straw" purchases in which buyers resell products to minors. "As health professionals, we strongly believe that access to nicotine products, and that advertising of nicotine products that appeals to teens, should be restricted to minimize youth exposure". "The FDA won't tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products".

FDA had taken a slow approach to allow manufacturers to figure out how to submit products for consideration. The "epidemic" perceived by the FDA is mainly an epidemic of e-cigarette experimentation, and even that trend seems to have reversed, judging from the latest NYTS results. Ingredients also include glycerol, propylene glycol, natural oils, extracts and flavor and benzoic acid.

"JUUL Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request", the company said in a statement. More than 2 million middle and high school students were users of e-cigarettes in 2017, according to the agency.

"Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes". But it added that "appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch", spokeswoman Victoria Davis said. "We need to do everything we can to address this escalating risk of addiction for youth, but we can't do this alone". We will provide the Agency with a comprehensive plan in 60 days as it requested in its letter to us.

Jefferies is also bullish on how the FDA's actions will affect major tobacco players.


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