By Jack Morse
High schoolers around the country just cried out in unified despair: Their precious mint pods are not long for this world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued new guidelines meant to curb the youth vaping epidemic that, among other actions, will officially halt the sale of mint Juul pods. The rules, which go into effect in 30 days time, focus on cartridge-based e-cigarettes and follow Juul’s voluntary move to cease mint pod sales late last year.
A voluntary halt in sales, however, is a far cry from an FDA crackdown. The new enforcement priorities make it official: Mint-flavored pods are now history.
“Under this policy, companies that do not cease manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes (other than tobacco or menthol) within 30 days risk FDA enforcement actions,” reads an FDA statement accompanying the new guidelines.
Notably, the FDA claims this ban is not actually a new ban. Rather, it says it has simply decided that now is the time to selectively enforce its power against some flavored pods — flavored pods like mint, but not menthol.
“[Health and Human Services] is taking a comprehensive, aggressive approach to enforcing the law passed by Congress, under which no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally,” HHS secretary Alex Azar said in the FDA statement.
This move is being criticized by at least one U.S. senator who sees the exception for non-cartridge flavors, like the kind you might find in more complicated e-cigarette rigs sold in vape shops, as an industry give away.
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“I’m deeply disturbed that industry lobbyists were able to get President Trump to gut the ban on flavors that the FDA was belatedly planning,” wrote Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley in a statement. “Instead, this announcement is simply saying that FDA will target its enforcement on flavors, and even then it is carving out loopholes for tobacco and menthol flavors, and vape shops.”
So yeah, the overall vaping picture is complicated. One thing, though, is not: As things currently stand, mint pods will not be coming with you into this bold new decade.
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