retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times this morning reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said that “teenage use of electronic cigarettes has reached ‘an epidemic proportion,’ and it put makers of the most popular devices on notice that they have just 60 days to prove they can keep their devices away from minors.”

If they don’t comply, the FDA said, these products could be pulled from the marketplace.

The Times writes that “the agency said it was sending warning letters to 1,100 retailers — including 7-Eleven stores, Walgreens, Circle K convenience shops and Shell gas stations — and issued another 131 fines, ranging from $279 to $11,182, for selling e-cigarettes to minors.

“Federal law prohibits selling e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. In a briefing with reporters, the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said that more than two million middle and high school students were regular users of e-cigarettes last year.”

Among manufacturers, the story says, the FDA is especially targeting Juul, which “offers especially potent nicotine hits. Juul Labs launched the sleek device, which looks like a flash drive, in 2015. It comes with ‘pods’ in eight flavors, among them mango, menthol and creme. In a short time, Juul has become the dominant seller of e-cigarettes and a fad among students. According to Nielsen data, Juul controls 72 percent of the market, and is valued by investors at $16 billion.”

The story goes on: “The other four products facing the 60-day deadline are RJR Vapor Co.’s Vuse, Imperial Brands’ blu and devices made by Logic. They said they were working with the F.D.A. as well. RJR, Imperial and Altria are all major tobacco companies. As smoking rates have declined, the industry sees e-cigarettes as an important piece of its survival, a fact that makes some in public health mistrustful.”

Juul responded to the FDA statement this way: “Juul Labs will work proactively with F.D.A. in response to its request. We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people.”
KC's View:
Yeah, right.

These manufacturers, as far as I am concerned, have no credibility, and believing that they will give this subject anything more than lip service - and maybe, if they have to, some token move to demonstrate minimal cooperation with regulators - is foolish.

We’re going to trust tobacco companies - which historically have proven that they only thing they do better than manufacture poisonous, addictive products is lie to legislators, regulators and customers - to cut off young customers who they hope will buy their products for the rest of their lives? I don’t think so. We’re going to trust the manufacturer of mango e-tobacco products when they say they are committed to keeping their products out of the hands and lungs of young people? Nope.

This is all a crock. And retailers should be careful about doing business in this segment, which is populated by the craven and the mercenary.

I’ve always been upfront about my opinion of these people. I hate them. I cannot imagine that there are adults working at these companies who would want their children using their products. And I believe that a special circle of hell is reserved for them.