*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
Calling the use of electronic cigarettes a burgeoning epidemic among teens, the U.S Food and Drug Administration announced a crackdown on the sale of Juuls and other flavored e-cigarette devices to minors.
More than 1,200 warning letters and fines have been sent to retailers and five major e-cigarette manufacturers who illegally sold Juul devices, which look like computer flash drives, and other e-cigarette products to minors. The companies have 60 days to come up with plans to stop those sales or the FDA may consider a ban on the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, the agency said.
"The disturbing and accelerating trajectory we're seeing in youth and the resulting path to addiction must end," FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said at a morning media briefing. "We're seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the removal of these flavored products from the market."
Manufacturers of the five top-selling national e-cigarette brands have received FDA warning letters, he said. All of these brands -- JUUL, Vuse, MarkTen, blu e-cigs, and Logic -- made up the majority of products sold illegally to minors, the agency said. The retailers targeted by the FDA include 7-Eleven stores, Circle K convenience shops and Shell gas stations.
In addition, the agency's plan includes a series of actions to stop youth use of tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes. More than 2 million middle and high school students were regular users of e-cigarettes last year, according to the FDA.
"Our youth tobacco prevention plan focuses on three key strategies," Gottlieb said. "First, preventing youth access to tobacco products. Second, curbing the marketing of tobacco products aimed at youth. And finally, educating teens about the dangers of using any tobacco-related products."
Although Gottlieb believes that e-cigarettes can help some adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes, he is concerned that e-cigarettes pose health risks, including the possibility of releasing nicotine at higher levels than conventional cigarettes, and may lead to nicotine addiction in teens.
The agency said it continues to check retail stores that sell tobacco, to ensure they are in compliance with federal laws.
The steps announced Wednesday are just the initial elements of these new efforts, Gottlieb said.