LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - E-cigarette users could soon have fewer options.
Thew new regulations aim to crack down on underage e-cigarette use, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
“We put out policy that puts in place requirements for retail locations as well as for companies selling these products online, that they have to take additional steps to verify the age of anyone purchasing a fruit—a fruity product. So, a fruit flavored e-cigarette,” Scott Gottlieb, outgoing commisioner for the FDA, said.
Gottlieb points to an uptick of e-cigarette use among teens.
“We saw a 78 percent increase among high school students using e-cigarettes and a 50 percent increase in middle school students using e-cigarettes. Really, epidemic proportions of use, the growth was just over one year. We know a lot of the kids are using a lot of the flavored products and we know a lot of them are getting them from retail locations, and so what we’re trying to do is put in place requirements that make it harder for kids to get access to the products we know the children find most appealing," Gottlieb said.
The proposed policy would tighten sales of sweet-flavored vapors; eventually pulling them off the market—leaving those mint, menthol and tobacco flavors. But, what does that mean for vape shop owners?
“I’ve never sold to anybody 18-17 years or younger. I never will and I never have. This is our sole income for my family and I and that is way too much to put on the line to risk selling to someone 17 or under," Tracy Slaughter, owner of Elite Vapors, said.
Slaughter said her business wouldn’t be the only one at risk.
“There are far more adults that are looking for flavored juice than there are children. My targeted demographic has always been someone closer to my age. 28 to about 60 is our targeted demographic and I have a feeling that’s for most vape shops. So, if they take the flavored juices off the market we’ll probably lose 60 to 80 percent of our clientele," Slaughter said.
One e-cigarette user said she isn’t happy with the proposal.
“Like, I would smoke a pack every two to three days and now, I’ve completely stopped smoking because of flavored vapes," Lexi Reed said.
While another said it might be a good idea.
“Yeah, I think it’s a good idea. It’s the same thing back in the 90s; they made flavored cigarettes, pedaled those to kids. When we were kid,s we also had Camel Joe," Joe Cortez said.
The Center for Disease Control reports the number of high school students using e-cigarettes increased 78 percent from 2017 to 2018. The number of middle-schoolers increased 48 percent.