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The Editors

The FDA Is Too Soft on E-Cigarettes

Comprehensive regulations are needed to protect kids and adults.

Vulnerable to addiction.

Vulnerable to addiction.

Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration insists that he is determined to keep electronic cigarettes away from children. “We won’t let this pool of kids, a pool of future potential smokers, of future disease and death, to continue to build,” Scott Gottlieb said this week, in response to news that the number of high-school and middle-school kids who vape is up 1.5 million since last year. “We’ll take whatever action is necessary to stop these trends from continuing.”

Yet the steps the FDA is taking are not enough. It plans to ban the sale of candy-flavored e-cigarettes in stores (or parts of stores) that are not “age-restricted” —  but that’s an ill-defined distinction that would be hard to enforce, so sales could continue in many convenience stores. Online sales would still be permitted. And there’d be no restriction on where menthol- and mint-flavored e-cigarettes can be sold.