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FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb appeared before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations yesterday. E-cigarettes were a major topic of discussion – with Gottlieb promising new FDA action aimed at preventing teen vaping.

New rules are coming

Discussion focused mainly on reports of rising e-cigarette usage amongst teenagers – with Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) taking aim at the wildly popular Juul. Lowey held up a Juul device and asked Gottlieb if he knew what it was. She then described it to the rest of the group.

“This is a JUUL, which is now among the most popular e-cigarette on the market … One JUUL pod, like this, contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.”

The Juul has become a lightning rod in the new war on vaping. The device’s sleek design (it looks like a USB stick) is appealing to many teens, who are reportedly flocking to the device at an alarming rate.

Lowey, and many other parents and educators, are worry that devices like the Juul could “open the gates to the next public health emergency.” Gottlieb agrees, telling the committee that the FDA “will be stepping into this fight in a vigorous way in the coming weeks.”

Commissioner Gottlieb wouldn’t reveal exactly how the FDA intends to tackle this issue, but he has countless tools at his disposal. In a potentially telling moment, he declined to answer whether the Juul’s newest flavors had violated the FDA’s deeming rule, which requires products released after August 2016 to undergo a premarket review by the FDA before being released for sale. Gottlieb explained to the committee that he didn’t want to “telegraph coming enforcement action” by addressing the question.

What does this mean?

Clearly, this is troubling news for vapers. How troubling remains to be seen, but Gottlieb has made it clear that action is coming. Judging from the tenor of his words, it’s going to be swift and potentially extreme.

“We’re going to have to step in … We can’t just addict a whole generation of young people on nicotine with e-cigarettes and consider that a public health advance.”

When you couple this with recent plan to explore limiting e-liquid flavors, the future looks bleak. There’s still time to act, though — consider joining these advocacy groups to help ensure your right to vape is protected, and be sure to comment on the FDA’s proposed flavor ban by telling your story here.