Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday said the federal Food and Drug Administration needs to enforce stricter rules against kids buying e-cigarettes.
Schumer said New York high school students are more likely to smoke the electronic cigarettes than students in other states, and the emergence of a new type, Juul, makes it even easier.
“It takes your breath away” that so many students are using the e-cigarettes, Schumer said, speaking from his midtown office on Sunday. “We’ve made progress over the last decade in keeping cigarettes out of people’s hands, particularly kids. But with e-cigarettes — with their trendy packaging, their kid-friendly flavors — are moving us backward.”
Schumer said the new e-cigarette, Juul, resembles a USB flash drive and can be charged on a computer.
The refillable cartridge comes in different flavors, like cool mint, mango and creme brulee, according to his office.
It is available on the company’s website, which asks users if they are 21 or older and includes several disclaimers on the intro page, including a warning against nicotine and an all-caps assurance that it is not for sale to minors.
However, it does not appear there is any way to verify someone’s birthday on the website.
He said the FDA has the ability to implement regulations, including limiting e-cigarettes to those over 18 years old, like regular tobacco products, and limiting their sale in vending machines.
One Juul pod, Schumer said, has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes.
“That is outrageous,” he said. “It’s safe to say the e-cigarette companies are stepping over the line to market these products to kids, to get them hooked to smoking. And they’re hoping the federal government turns a blind eye — unfortunately that is what’s happening.”
A spokeswoman for Juul said in an email that the company uses “industry-leading ID match and age verification technology to ensure that customers” are over 21 and that the “information is verified against multiple databases.”