In an announcement on Thursday 2 January 2020 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they have finalized their enforcement policy on flavored cartridge-based e-cigarette products, with an emphasis placed on banning all flavors of cartridge-based vape products with the exception of tobacco and mint flavoring. According to a press release, the FDA will be aggressively targeting e-cigarette and vape products manufacturers which target kids in their product flavorings and packaging. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said: “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.”
This announcement in conjunction with recent changes in legislation increasing the legal age of purchase for tobacco products to 21, show the determination of the FDA in their battle to prevent nicotine use of our nations youth, with FDA Commissioner Stephen M Hann, M.D. saying “As we work to combat the troubling epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the enforcement policy we’re issuing today confirms our commitment to dramatically limit children’s access to certain flavored e-cigarette products we know are so appealing to them.”
While this final guidance for the banning of flavored e-cigarette cartridge-based products is not set to go into enforcement before 12 May 2020, once it is effective, manufacturers will have only 30 days to cease the production, distribution, and sale of flavored cartridge-based e-cigarette products, or be subject to FDA action.
In a particularly surprising shift, the FDA announced that non-flavored, hand-rolled premium cigars are among their lowest priority, admitting that premium cigars have “comparatively lower youth usage rates.” However, the wording of the FDA’s announcement leaves the battlefield wide open to attacking flavored cigars, including anything with fruit, candy or mint flavorings. Should the FDA place a focus on flavored cigars in addition to vape products, it could cause problems for cigar manufacturers including Drew Estate with their ACID, Tabak Especial and Java lines, CAO with their Flavours line, Tatiana, Cuban Honeys, Panama Jack and many others which have included flavored offerings in their product portfolio for years.
In the FDA guidance publication, they recognize the potential of an accompanying increase in black market and counterfeit sales of flavored vape products – should the FDA end up placing their crosshairs on flavored premium cigars as well, the flavored premium hand-rolled cigars we have come to love may end up joining Cuban cigars, becoming the new forbidden fruit of the cigar world!
You can read the press release from the FDA here: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-finalizes-enforcement-policy-unauthorized-flavored-cartridge-based-e-cigarettes-appeal-children
You can read the new FDA guidance document here: https://www.fda.gov/media/133880/download