Sep 25, 2018

FDA may ban online vaping sales

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/Axios

The Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on the online sale of e-cigarettes, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said at an Axios News Shapers event this morning. New limits on flavored products are also on the table, he said; the agency will release new data about teen vaping and announce its next steps in November.

Why it matters: Gottlieb has consistently said e-cigarettes can be a safer option for adults who smoke cigarettes, but that the products are "too appealing" and "too accessible" to children and teens. Regulations to ban or at least curb online sales or flavored products could come soon, Gottlieb said today.

  • The FDA in November also is planning to release new e-cig usage data, which will show that year-over-year usage among high schoolers has risen by at least 80% (. It also will detail middle-school usage increases, which is lower than the high school figure but still quite high.
  • The vaping companies aren't tipping their hands, but expect them to suggest tech-based age verification solutions for both point-of-sale and online purchases. But it would be impossible for them to guarantee either one — the former because they can't really control a retail counter, and the latter because they can't effectively stop online resale. So it's really a question of what level of "proof" Gottlieb is really going to require to stem what he today termed a "public health emergency."
  • NJoy, an early e-cig company that went bankrupt in 2016 after having been valued at around $1.2 billion by private investors like Fidelity, just raised $49 million in new equity funding, per an SEC filing. Unclear if there are any new investors beyond Homewood Capital, which bought NJoy out of bankruptcy, but there is a new CEO whose last job appears to have been running a Los Angeles-area landscaping company.

Go deeper

Kenan Thompson and Hasan Minhaj to headline White House Correspondents' Dinner

Kenan Thompson on "SNL" in 2018. Photo: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC via Getty Images

Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured "Saturday Night Live" cast member, will host the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on April 25.

And Hasan Minhaj — host of Netflix’s "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj," and the entertainer at the 2017 dinner — will return as featured entertainer.

"Billions": Season 2020

Mike Bloomberg speaks at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., on Saturday. Photo: James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

Money alone can’t buy a presidential election, but it surely gets you VIP access.

Why it matters: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is duking it out with Billionaire Donald Trump, often on Billionaire Jack Dorsey’s Twitter and in ads on Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, all chronicled in Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post. 

Biometrics invade banking and retail

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Banks have been quietly rolling out biometrics to identify customers — verifying them by their fingerprint, voice or eye scan — and retailers like Amazon are getting into the game.

Why it matters: These companies are amassing giant databases of our most personal information — including our gait, how we hold our cellphones, our typing patterns — that raise knotty questions about data security and privacy.