HUNTSVILLE, Ala - This week, the US Food and Drug Administration released new statistics saying that high school e-cigarette use has increased 80% this year.
The FDA announced it will impose new restrictions on the sales of flavored e-cigarettes in retail stores, limiting them to closed off areas that are inaccessible to minors.
Candice Dunaway is the executive director of the Huntsville nonprofit 'Partnership For a Drug-Free Community', an organization that educates young people about the dangers of drugs, including nicotine.
"I feel like we're taking a step way backward with the health issues associated with nicotine and tobacco," Dunaway said.
The FDA is observing what it's calling a "surge in use". According to the FDA one in five high schools students has used e-cigarettes in the last month. 1.5 million more high school students used the products this year compared to last year.
The company Juul Labs announced it's plan this week to combat underage purchases. CEO Kevin Burns released this statement on the company's website saying: "We stopped accepting retail orders for our mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber Juul pods to the over 90,000 retail stores that sell our product, including traditional tobacco retailers (e.g., convenience stores) and specialty vape shops."
An associate at one vape shop in Huntsville has mixed feelings about this move.
"It's one of those things that may look a lot better on paper than in practice," Twickenham Vapor associate Daniel Bedford Aldridge said.
He says he doesn't think flavors should be limited or regulated.
While certain Juul products could soon be coming off shelves, the FDA's proposal has to go through lots of red tape before it becomes a reality. The FDA is still worried about combustible cigarettes. It also announced this week that it would like to eventually ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and cigars.
President of Breath Easier Alliance of Alabama, Stacy Hamilton, says another issue at hand is that many people under 18 are getting e-cigarettes from adults who buy the product for them. She thinks there should be higher penalties for people who buy e-cigarettes for people who are underage.