Flavored gummy bears are the new nicotine product in the Food and Drug Administration’s crosshairs, continuing its years of activity Crackdown on nicotine use by teenagers and young adults.
The agency announced today that it has issued a warning letter to Krave Nic, who is warning gummies containing 1 milligram of nicotine each in three flavors – Blueraz, Cherry Bomb and Pineapple. The company needs FDA approval to manufacture or sell these types of products, the agency said in its statement.
“Nicotine gums are a public health crisis just waiting to strike among our nation’s youth, especially as we head into a new school year,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.
This type of nicotine product is a relatively new entry into the market. Nicotine gum intended to help people quit smoking has been around for decades, but gum, flavored pouches, and other recreational products not intended to help people quit are a more recent addition. They are already the second most popular type of nicotine product used by high schoolers, according to a study of Southern California children released this month and citing the FDA in its statement.
It’s a similar profile to early vapes from companies like Juul – they taste great and are easy to hide from parents or teachers. “And then the brands use really modern packaging designs and engage in marketing campaigns on digital and social media,” Alyssa Harlow, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine who conducted the research study, told NBC News.
Teenage vaping has declined in recent years. Juul, which stopped selling flavored products after backlash from the federal government, has lost popularity with kids — and the FDA is trying to take it off the market. Over the past year, the agency has denied applications to sell thousands of vaping products, only allowing tobacco flavors.
But teenagers and adolescents are still using single-use flavored vapes. And the arrival of gummies offers another avenue for flavored nicotine products. The FDA’s warning letter and announcement show that the agency plans to jump on other nicotine delivery systems that may have similar appeal to children and adolescents.