Truth Initiative CEO Says FDA Action on E-Cigarettes is Not Enough

November 15, 2018
Updated 24d ago

By Amanda Weston

While some are celebrating the FDA’s new restrictions targeting flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, the leader of Truth Initiative said it’s not enough.

“We’re glad the FDA is stepping in, but more needs to be done,” Robin Koval, CEO, and president of Truth Initiative, told Cheddar Thursday.

The new rules require fruit flavored-cartridges like those sold by Juul to be sold in "age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification."

This means the pods that are most popular with teenagers will no longer be available in convenience stores and gas stations where teens have easier access.

The FDA also proposed banning menthol cigarettes, which Koval applauded.

“We’re really pleased that the FDA is taking action on menthol and on flavors in little cigars,” Koval said. “We’ve been asking for that for a long time and the evidence is so strong that if we take menthol off the market, we will save hundreds of thousands of lives.”

But Koval remains concerned about flavored e-cigarettes.

“You’ll still be able to go into a vape shop and behind the black curtain will be the mango flavors, or in gas stations and convenience stores they’ll still be selling mint flavor, which kind of got lumped in with menthol but really is a candy flavor,” Koval said.

“What we would ask the FDA to think about is really eliminating all the flavors, banning online sales completely ー because if you can’t buy cigarettes online, you shouldn’t be able to buy e-cigarettes online ー and I’d say most importantly, rolling back that date for premarket review.”

All e-cigarettes on the market will have to go through a review process. Those that were for sale before August 2016 were supposed to start the process this year, but the FDA extended the deadline until 2022.

Koval said the lack of review means that the risk of new products may be unknown until it's too late.

“Products go on the market and we don’t know if they are a benefit to public health, if they’re a risk to young people, until they’re already out there and they’re already in every high school in America,” Koval said. “And that’s kind of the catch up that we’re playing now with what’s happened with the tremendous explosion of Juul.”

Koval said the number of high school students using e-cigarettes nearly doubled in just one year.

“Even worse than that, a lot of people were thinking, 'Well maybe they’re just experimenting. That’s what kids do.’ Not true,” Koval said. “These kids are using these products, a large number of them, 20 or more times a month. That means they’re addicted.”

For full interview click here.