"Removing these products from the market was a critical step toward protecting our kids," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a news release. "We can all agree no kid should ever start using any tobacco or nicotine-containing product, and companies that sell them have a responsibility to ensure they aren't enticing youth use."
HealthDay News gave examples of the products that were targeted in the warning letters, including: One Mad Hit Juice Box, which resembled children's apple-juice boxes; Whip'd Strawberry, which resembled a dairy whipped topping; Twirly Pop, which resembled a Unicorn Pop lollipop and was shipped with one; and Unicorn Cakes, which included images of a strawberry beverage and unicorns eating pancakes, similar to those used by the My Little Pony television and toy franchise.
"When companies market these products using imagery that misleads a child into thinking they're things they've consumed before, like a juice box or candy, that can create an imminent risk of harm to a child who may confuse the product for something safe and familiar," Gottlieb warned.
The FDA said in the release that it expects some of the companies to continue selling the products, but with revised labeling, and that it will continue to monitor the situation. "We expect to take additional, robust enforcement actions over the next few months that target those who we believe are allowing these products to get into the hands of children," Gottlieb said.
More than 2 million middle- and high-school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2016, and the availability of flavored-liquids is a major reason teens use them.
In Kentucky, about the same number of high-school students smoke traditional cigarettes as e-cigarettes, around 14 percent, according the the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. However, about 45 percent of them reported that they had ever tried and electronic vapor product.
The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow is scheduled to host a half-day conference Dec. 10 to provide the latest information available on e-cigarettes, vapes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems.
The conference will be held at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky offices in Louisville, but will include "live-watch events" at two or three additional Kentucky locations. Attendance will be free, but registration is required. Agenda details and registration information will be forthcoming.