The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving to block gas stations and convenience stores from selling e-cigarette products in kid-friendly flavors, according to a report from The Washington Post. The ban, which is expected to be announced next week, is a step toward fighting what the FDA calls an epidemic of youth vaping. But depending on how the ban unfolds, it could also be a major win for Big Tobacco.
This isn’t a blanket ban on vapes, according to the Post, which cites an anonymous FDA official. Gas stations and convenience stores can keep selling mint or menthol-flavored pods, just not ones that taste like mango or nectar. (It’s not clear whether tobacco flavors will be permitted.) Sales of flavored products may still be permitted in vape and tobacco shops as well as online stores with strict age verification setups. Vape shops will be allowed to continue selling open-tank vapes and liquids that come in bottles, the Post reports.
We don’t know precisely how the ban will work or if there will even be one. (The FDA isn’t commenting.) Still, if the ban the Post describes does go forward, it will affect closed-system pod vapes in general. That will hit Juul the hardest, says Jidong Huang, an associate professor at Georgia State University who specializes in the economics of tobacco control. Part of Juul’s appeal is its flavors, he says. And because Juul has dominated more than 70 percent of the e-cigarette market, cutting it off at the knees is good news for other tobacco companies whose vapes aren’t as competitive