Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) is developing child safety locking technology for its myblu e-cigarette after the US Food and Drug Administration announced new restrictions to prevent minors from using flavoured nicotine products.
In announcing its new measures, the FDA pointed to data that showed vaping had increased nearly 80% among high school students and 50% among middle school children since last year.
"These data shock my conscience," FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said.
The FDA has proposed that only tobacco, mint and menthol e-cigarette flavours can be sold at most traditional retail outlets such as convenience stores. Fruit or sweet-flavoured varieties will be removed from shelves and websites that are easily accessible to minors.
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Imperial Brands said it shared the same concerns as the FDA about minors using vapour products and will consider appropriate actions in response to the new restrictions.
“Vapour products are for adult smokers and their sale to anyone underage should be prevented,” it said.
“However, we also recognise the challenge faced by the FDA in balancing concerns regarding youth appeal and access, given the positive public health potential of vapour products.
“We believe that through our blu product range we offer adult smokers a significantly better alternative than combustible cigarettes and consistently reinforce this message, while at the same time working actively against youth access to, and usage of, our products.”
The company is developing a connected version of myblu with device locking technology. The group said it was “greatly encouraged” by Gottlieb's remarks on finding a process to accelerate development and review of vapour products with child protection features.
Gottlieb said the FDA’s measures were intended to prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts.
“We won’t let this pool of kids, a pool of future potential smokers, of future disease and death, to continue to build,” he said. “I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes”.
The regulator has also recommended bans on regular menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars.
Imperial Brands said it noted the FDA’s proposal regarding menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars but believes it needs to be backed up by relevant science and evidence.
“Such proposals are likely to require a multi-year process, in which we will be fully engaged,” it said.