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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Food and Drug Administration yesterday cleared Philip Morris' iQOS, a new tobacco device designed as an alternative to traditional cigarettes — an announcement that falls smack-dab in the middle of a swelling push to control the fallout from Juul, another cigarette alternative.

Driving the news: The iQOS — which heats up sticks of tobacco instead of burning them — is in existence largely for the same reason as e-cigarettes. The FDA said it was cleared because "the products produce fewer or lower levels of some toxins than combustible cigarettes" and "IQOS users may be able to completely transition away from combustible cigarettes."

Yes, but: The effort to curb the teenage vaping epidemic has momentum largely thanks to former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

  • The FDA said that it has put strict marketing rules in place to prevent youth use of the new iQOS device.
  • It also made clear that the product is not "approved," as "all tobacco products are potentially harmful and addictive."

Meanwhile: Yesterday, a bipartisan group of both House and Senate members introduced a bill to raise the federal smoking age to 21.

  • One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Diana DeGette, took a shot at previously introduced legislation. "Unlike other bills drafted by the industry, our bill has no special-interest carve-outs or limitations on state and local governments," she said in a statement.
  • One such proposal, announced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has come under fire for being tobacco-friendly, Politico reported.

Go deeper: Read the FDA's formal vaping proposal

— Correction: An earlier version of this story said McConnell has introduced a bill to raise the federal age limit for buying tobacco. He has announced that proposal but has not yet introduced it as a bill.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.