FDA moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes: Here's what we know

The FDA is taking steps to ban the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes amid ongoing reports of a serious lung condition that has caused at least six deaths and more than 450 cases, including hospitalizations. The announcement was made today by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who said in a statement that these devices are paving the way for a new generation of nicotine addicts.

According to the HHS, the Food and Drug Administration is currently drafting a policy that will target electronic cigarettes that are not tobacco-flavored and that lack premarket authorization. An August 8, a rule went into effect that requires the companies selling these products to file premarket tobacco product applications with the FDA within the next two years.

As such, HHS says that the electronic vaping systems currently for sale on the market are not being legally marketed at this time and therefore may be subjected to government action. The FDA's upcoming policy, which is expected to be announced in 'coming weeks,' will establish the 'enforcement policy' related to the sale of the flavored vaping products that lack premarket authorization.

Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said:

Once finalized, this compliance policy will serve as a powerful tool that the FDA can use to combat the troubling trend of youth e-cigarette use. We must act swiftly against flavored e-cigarette products that are especially attractive to children. Moreover, if we see a migration to tobacco-flavored products by kids, we will take additional steps to address youth use of these products.

The government has targeted electronic cigarette marketing practices increasingly over the last several months, but the FDA has been criticized for moving slowly in its regulatory efforts. Since early August, a growing number of reports have surfaced about an unnamed lung condition that has appeared in hundreds of vapers, one described as progressive and severe, though officials haven't yet determined what is causing the crisis.