FDA to ban flavored e-cigs to help curb 'epidemic'

The Cuomo administration says NY state is taking steps that could make it the first state to ban the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes.

With the growing use in e-cigarettes comes the growing concern over what the nicotine vapor can do to developing teenage brains.

E-cigarette products represent a small share of revenue for major tobacco companies, whereas Juul's business is built entirely on the vaping devices.

The FDA has warned several e-cigarette makers to stop marketing to teenagers or risk being banned.

Scott Gottlieb is expected this week to announce bans on most flavored e-cigarettes in an attempt to curb "epidemic" levels of teen e-cigarette use, senior FDA officials told CNBC and the Washington Post.

There has been mounting pressure for action after preliminary federal data showed teenage use had surged by more than 75 percent since a year ago, and the FDA has described it as an "epidemic".

The agency plans to prohibit sales of flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations. It also said it cracked down on 1,300 retailers who illegally sold e-cigarettes to minors.

At the same time, vaping devotees and "harm reduction" advocates have said e-cigarettes represent s powerful tool in helping adult smokers to quit more unsafe cigarettes.

While vaping itself is less harmful than tobacco smoking, research shows many e-cigarette users are likely to develop nicotine addictions and some will probably end up on regular cigarettes, a product that kills half of its long-term users.

Use of the devices has skyrocketed especially with young people, according to the FDA.

They are also being used for other drugs.

Juul has previously said the company wants to be "part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people" but that "appropriate flavors play an important role in helping adult smokers switch".

Vanessa Coleman