*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
A crackdown on the sale of the wildly popular Juul brand of electronic cigarettes to teens has been announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
It includes a nationwide undercover blitz targeting the illegal sale of Juul products to minors at both stores and online retailers, according to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
Juul electronic cigarettes look like computer flash drives and have become a favorite of teenagers. They contain high levels of nicotine and emit vapors that are hard to see or detect.
Just last week, a survey found that many young Americans don't even realize that Juuls contain highly addictive nicotine.
But just one Juul cartridge has nicotine levels equal to a pack of cigarettes, and Juul now commands more than half of the e-cigarette market.
"Today's announcement is a step in the right direction, but the FDA needs to accelerate its actions when it comes to regulating e-cigarettes like Juul and remove flavors known to entice youth," said Dave Dobbins, chief operating officer of the Truth Initiative, which conducted the youth survey.
"Keeping e-cigarettes on the market without first evaluating them is putting an entire generation of young people at risk of addiction," Dobbins added in a statement.
Gottlieb stressed that the FDA is taking the dangers of Juul products seriously.
"The illegal sale of these Juul products to minors is concerning. In fact, just since the beginning of March, FDA compliance checks have uncovered 40 violations for illegal sales of Juul products to youth," he said in an agency news release.
"The FDA has issued 40 warning letters for those violations… And we anticipate taking many more similar actions as a result of the ongoing blitz and our focus on enforcement related to youth access," Gottlieb said.
"Let me be clear to retailers," he added. "This blitz, and resulting actions, should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the sale of any tobacco products to youth."
Another part of the crackdown includes additional enforcement actions against companies the FDA believes are marketing e-cigarettes in ways that are misleading to minors.
In yet another action, the FDA said it has asked the maker of Juul products for documents that could help explain why kids find the products so appealing.
"We don't yet fully understand why these products are so popular among youth. But it's imperative that we figure it out, and fast. These documents may help us get there," Gottlieb said.