I'm not the first person to see the Food and Drug Administration's hard line on e-cigarettes as a miniaturized "only Nixon could go to China" kind of situation: This is a conservative administration, with a conservative FDA commissioner, pursuing an undeniably strict regulatory crackdown.
After all, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is expected to announce today a ban on menthol flavoring in cigarettes — an idea I covered back in 2009, when Democrats, in control of the House, Senate and White House, proposed it as part of the law that gave the FDA jurisdiction over tobacco products.
- That bill ended up banning flavored cigarettes, except for menthol. Vaping wasn't a thing yet. But the FDA now appears prepared to come down hard on flavored vape products and menthol cigarettes.
So, what changed? Juul's unparalleled popularity with teens — vaping is up 77% over the past year among high schoolers — all but forced the FDA's hand, my colleague Caitlin Owens reports this morning.
What they're saying: "The only reason I saw for flavors was companies trying to get kids to smoke. I pleaded with them to take out all the flavors," former Rep. Henry Waxman, who helped shepherd that 2009 tobacco bill, tells Caitlin. "Now, what many of us predicted has come true. Kids are vaping, and Juul is the biggest source of e-cigarettes.”