Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it has authorized the marketing of three new tobacco products, marking the first set of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products ever to be authorized by the FDA through the Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) pathway. The FDA issued marketing granted orders to R.J. Reynolds (RJR) Vapor Company for its Vuse Solo closed ENDS device and accompanying tobacco-flavored e-liquid pods, specifically, Vuse Solo Power Unit, Vuse Replacement Cartridge Original 4.8% G1, and Vuse Replacement Cartridge Original 4.8% G2. As the RJR Vapor Company submitted data to the FDA that demonstrated that marketing of these products is appropriate for the protection of public health, today’s authorization allows these products to be legally sold in the U.S.
“Today’s authorizations are an important step toward ensuring all new tobacco products undergo the FDA’s robust, scientific premarket evaluation. The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption – by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “We must remain vigilant with this authorization and we will monitor the marketing of the products, including whether the company fails to comply with any regulatory requirements or if credible evidence emerges of significant use by individuals who did not previously use a tobacco product, including youth. We will take action as appropriate, including withdrawing the authorization.”
Under the PMTA pathway, manufacturers must demonstrate to the agency that, among other things, marketing of the new tobacco product would be appropriate for the protection of the public health. These products were found to meet this standard because, among several key considerations, the agency determined that study participants who used only the authorized products were exposed to fewer harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) from aerosols compared to users of combusted cigarettes. The toxicological assessment also found the authorized products’ aerosols are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data comparisons and results of nonclinical studies. Additionally, the FDA considered the risks and benefits to the population as a whole, including users and non-users of tobacco products, and importantly, youth. This included review of available data on the likelihood of use of the product by young people. For these products, the FDA determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth, provided the applicant follows post-marketing requirements aimed at reducing youth exposure and access to the products.
Today, the FDA also issued 10 marketing denial orders (MDOs) for flavored ENDS products submitted under the Vuse Solo brand by RJR. Due to potential confidential commercial information issues, the FDA is not publicly disclosing the specific flavored products. These products subject to an MDO for a premarket application may not be introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Should any of them already be on the market, they must be removed from the market or risk enforcement. Retailers should contact RJR with any questions about products in their inventory. The agency is still evaluating the company’s application for menthol-flavored products under the Vuse Solo brand.
The FDA is aware that the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) found approximately 10 percent of high school students who currently used e-cigarettes named Vuse as their usual brand. The agency takes these data very seriously and considered risks to youth when reviewing these products. The evidence also indicated that, compared to users of non-tobacco flavored ENDS products, young people are less likely to start using tobacco-flavored ENDS products and then switch to higher-risk products, such as combusted cigarettes. The data also suggest that most youth and young adults who use ENDS begin with flavors such as fruit, candy or mint, and not tobacco flavors. These data reinforce the FDA’s decision to authorize the tobacco-flavored products because these products are less appealing to youth and authorizing these products may be beneficial for adult combusted cigarette users who completely switch to ENDS or significantly reduce their cigarette consumption.
Additionally, today’s authorization imposes strict marketing restrictions on the company, including digital advertising restrictions as well as radio and television advertising restrictions, to greatly reduce the potential for youth exposure to tobacco advertising for these products. RJR Vapor Company is also required to report regularly to the FDA with information regarding the products on the market, including, but not limited to, ongoing and completed consumer research studies, advertising, marketing plans, sales data, information on current and new users, manufacturing changes and adverse experiences.
The FDA may suspend or withdraw a marketing order issued under the PMTA pathway for a variety of reasons if the agency determines the continued marketing of a product is no longer “appropriate for the protection of the public health,” such as if there is a significant increase in youth initiation.
While today’s action permits the tobacco products to be sold in the U.S., it does not mean these products are safe or “FDA approved.” All tobacco products are harmful and addictive and those who do not use tobacco products should not start.
Applications for many ENDS and other new deemed tobacco products on the market as of Aug. 8, 2016 were required to be submitted to FDA by Sept. 9, 2020. The agency has taken action on over 98% of the applications submitted by that deadline. This includes issuing MDOs for more than one million flavored ENDS products that lacked sufficient evidence that the benefit to adult smokers who used the flavor products would overcome the public health concern posed by the well-documented and considerable appeal of the products to youth. Recently, FDA posted a sample MDO decision summary. This sample does not reflect the decision rationale for each MDO action taken by the FDA.
The agency will continue to issue decisions on applications, as appropriate, and is committed to working to transition the current marketplace to one in which all ENDS products available for sale have demonstrated that marketing of the product is “appropriate for the protection of the public health.”