GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Food and Drug Administration is fighting to keep electronic cigarette products out of young hands.
According to a release from the agency, there could soon be stricter rules on sellers e-cigarettes and related products. The new policy would focus on fruity-flavored products that the FDA believes attracts minors to the products.
“We’re trying to engage in a very careful public health balancing here, trying to preserve access for adults while we try to do as much as we can to foreclose access for the kids," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Michael Moore works at the MVapes in Gulfport. He said the store has dozens of fruit flavors in stock.
“I’ve got like a sour watermelon. I’ve got like a white gummy. I’ve got a watermelon kiwi," Moore said.
According to the FDA, there was a 78 percent increase in high school students using e-cigarettes between 2017 and 2018. Additionally, there was a 48 percent increase among middle school students.
With signs plastered around the shop, MVapes in Gulfport won’t let customers forget its 18 or older policy.
“We do have it on our door, we do have it in the shop, we do have it also on our receipts too. You do have to be 18 to even be in here," Moore said.
Different citizens we talked to say they believe there are many factors involved in why minors choose to vape.
“It’s like they see a lot of it on TV and stuff like that," said Anthony Gardener of Hattiesburg.
“What I can say is the name, the hype, the new thing that’s coming out,” said Texas-native Oziel Ruiz.
“It’s more of a peer pressure type thing, and it has many of the dangers that regular tobacco does," Peter Klagias said.
Gottlieb said the policy won’t be an overnight fix, but instead, a continued effort to keep kids safe.
“I don’t think kids are just going to stop using these, especially some kids have become addicted to nicotine now. So it’s going to take a lot of action over a sustained period of time to try to reverse these trends,” Gottlieb said.
The FDA will take about two months to start implementing the e-cigarette and vape guidelines.