The Food and Drug Administration says e-cigarettes in the US markets are facing an uncertain future if the smoking rate for teens does not decline next year.
Speaking at a public hearing Friday in Silver Spring, Md., FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he could remove the entire category of e-cigarette and steam products from store shelves if companies no longer sell these products to teenagers.
"I'll tell you, if the use of adolescents continues to grow and we see a significant increase in use in 2019, the entire category will face an existential threat in addition to the dramatic increase in 2018," he said.
Gottlieb pointed to data from the agency, which suggested that the number of youth fumes has almost doubled in the last year due to the higher availability and comfort of e-cigarette products. In his remarks, Gottlieb chose the e-cigarette brand JUUL as the first choice among secondary and middle school students.
"This progress is undercut - even darkened - by the recent dramatic increase in young people's steam," said Gottlieb about the decline in traditional smokers. "A few years ago, it would have been incredible for us to be here and discuss the potential of drug therapy that would help addicted adolescents to quit nicotine."
Consumption of e-cigarettes rose 78 percent last year among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students. Overall, 1.5 million young people from 2017 to 2018 were in the habit of curbing young people's vaping, despite Trump's efforts.
The FDA has the ability to stop selling e-cigarettes and demand that manufacturers undergo an official FDA approval process, even though it has not done so yet, NBC News said.
A spokesman for JUUL told The Hill on Friday that the company has condemned any use of its products among minors.
"The use of JUUL and other juvenile steam products is completely unacceptable to us and directly contradicts our mission to eliminate cigarettes by providing existing adult smokers with a real alternative to flammable cigarettes," said JUUL Labs spokesman Ted Kwong.
"We are at the forefront of implementing our action plan to reduce the use of young people, and that has not changed since we announced our plan in November," he added. "We will be a transparent, dedicated and committed partner of the FDA, state lawyers, local governments and community organizations to combat the use of minors."