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FDA initiatives target ‘widespread’ teen e-cigarette use

September 21, 2018

By Michelle Manchir

Calling the use of e-cigarettes among teens an “epidemic,” in September the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a campaign to educate kids and an initiative to target retail and online sales of the addictive product.

The FDA sent more than 1,300 warning letters and civil money penalty complaints to retailers who illegally sold electronic nicotine delivery system products to minors during a nationwide, undercover blitz of retailers this summer. In a September news release, the administration called it “the largest coordinated tobacco compliance effort in FDA’s history.”

Some e-cigarette devices can contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes, according to information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The ADA supports public policies to prevent tobacco use and urges its members to become fully informed about tobacco use prevention and cessation. The Association also aims to continue to educate and inform membership and the public about the health hazards attributed to the use of both traditional and nontraditional tobacco products, according to House of Delegates Resolution 78H-2016.

The FDA also announced in September it is launching a new prevention campaign called “The Real Cost” aimed at educating youth about how e-cigarettes put them at risk for addiction and other health consequences. Ads will run on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Facebook and Instagram, and posters will be placed in 10,000 high school bathrooms, according to the FDA.

While FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., acknowledged in a September statement that e-cigarettes may help some adult smokers “transition off” more conventional tobacco products and onto products that “may not have the same level of risks associated with them,” the FDA did not anticipate “the extent of what’s now become of our biggest challenges. We didn’t predict what I now believe is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers.”

For more information about the FDA’s plans to tackle youth e-cigarette use, visit

Tobacco and tobacco cessation are topics covered by the ADA Science Institute on an Oral Health Topics page.