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Ban threat looming large over e-cigarette industry

In the backdrop of six fatalities in the US relating to vaping, the Donald Trump administration may soon impose a blanket ban on e-cigarettes. After a meeting with President Trump, US health secretary Alex Azar said a ban on flavored e-cigarettes may soon be in place, in a move to reign its rampant use.

Several hundred people have been affected by a mysterious lung disorder following the use of these vapors, while six of them have died. The incidents come amidst rising criticism of increasing use of e-cigarettes among teenagers.

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Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

According to the data collected by the FDA last year, there is a 78% increase in vaping among high school students and a 48% increase among middle school students.

Shares of Altria (NYSE: MO), which owns a 35% stake in popular e-cigarette brand JUUL Labs, fell 0.8% during mid-day trading on Wednesday. The stock has declined 11% since the beginning of this year.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will prepare a set of guidelines for vapors, which will be finalized in a few weeks.

READ: Tobacco giants Philip Morris and Altria confirm merger talks

Earlier this week, JUUL received a letter of warning from US regulators for promoting its products as a safer alternative to the tobacco counterparts. The firm had not obtained approval from the FDA before making the claim. The company management had said it would cooperate with the concerns raised by the officials.

JUUL needs to respond to the FDA within 15 days.   

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