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FDA wants to outlaw menthol cigarettes, restrict teens’ access to vaping products

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — One in five Hoosiers smokes, and studies show e-cigarettes are getting more and more popular.

Now the FDA wants to crack down on what the agency calls “growing public health menace.”

The Food and Drug Administration wants to outlaw menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, claiming the cooling sensation masks tobacco’s impact.

It’s also cracking down on flavored e-cigarettes by ordering retailers to immediately move vaping products out of reach of minors.

“It’s not perfect. It’s not everything I would want, but it’s an excellent move compared to where we’ve been,” Nancy Cripe says.

The executive director of Tobacco Dree Allen County says kids tell her vaping has spiked using brands like Juul that can look like flash drives or wireless boosters.

“A year ago when I was asking kids if they had ever seen people who were using Juuls or if they knew what Juuls were, had they seen kids using e-cigarettes in school, there were a few but not a lot. When I just did it in the last two weeks, I had kids stand up and say have you seen people your age using e-cigarettes? Almost the entire class stood. And almost the entire class stood that said we’ve seen them used in school,” Cripe says.

Across the country, teen use of vaping products has surged 78% in the past year alone.

“We vet extremely hard when it comes to underage sales,” says Sam Rosa of Cravin’ Vapes.

Rosa is proud of his company’s strict policy to not allow minors inside, or customers who interact with them outside or in a car before they enter.

He thinks the FDA’s restrictions are good.

“It’s going to benefit the vape community as a whole because it’s going to bring us back to where we used to be where people are coming in to try new things, to look for the different ways that they can vape and go about using the type of nicotine delivery systems that we do have,” Rosa says.

While the FDA’s restrictions on vapes is immediate, it’s proposed ban on menthol cigarettes is still at least two years away.

The state is in the middle of a biannual teen tobacco use survey.

Those results should be available next year.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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