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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

23 mins ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.