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As if Scott Gottlieb needed more ammunition to fire upon the vaping industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) general received a boatload of targeting missiles.

As the FDA continues to battle the “epidemic” of teen vaping, Gottlieb was supplied with a report he could conveniently shoot back at anyone criticizing the federal agency’s recent tactics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported vaping among high school students rose 78 percent over the past year. In 2017, 11.7 percent of teens admitted to vaping. This year the percentage spiked to 20.8.

Middle school students also displayed an increase of 48 percent over the past year, according to the CDC.

Over the same time period, the CDC announced 38 percent more high school students and 29 percent more middle school students smoked traditional tobacco cigarettes.

The information in the teen vaping report was compiled for the 2011-18 National Youth Tobacco Survey, released via the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report.

For Gottlieb, the research appeared to validate the FDA’s recent efforts to prevent teen vaping and smoking. In September, it issued a memorandum warning vaping companies their “kid-friendly” flavors will be banned from domestic retail stores if more responsible marketing plans are not developed.

In the wake of the announcement, JUUL Labs, which owns more than 70 percent of the U.S. vaping market, announced self-imposed cutbacks on flavored products like cucumber, crème, fruit and mango until stores develop a technical means to verify the age of potential customers. JUUL also said it will close its Facebook and Instagram social media accounts.

Other vaping companies made similar moves.

Vaping has been the most popular tobacco delivery system among U.S. teens and preteens since 2014 and Gottlieb’s crusade continues with more ammunition to increase pressure on the vaping industry’s growing popularity with teens.

It’s a worst case scenario for the industry — expect things to get worse before they get better.

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