BEND, Ore. - Several businesses in Bend said they disagree with Wednesday's announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it plans to pull flavored e-cigarettes and related products off the shelves.
Kristina Moreland, who manages a U.S. Market store in Bend, said, "Pulling them off the shelves is going to affect a lot of business, but we'll keep them on as long as the FDA says we can keep them."
Moreland said e-cigarettes are a popular alternative to tobacco cigarettes, especially among younger customers. (Other Bend-area stores NewsChannel 21 talked to shared similar views, though no others would go on camera to discuss them.)
According to the FDA, e-cigarette use increased 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students from 2017 to 2018.
"The e-cigarettes are very popular, in particular the Juul," Moreland said. "Customers have changed from regular cigarettes over to the Juul."
Moreland said e-cigarette sales have actually decreased since recent cases of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Two of those cases were in Oregon.
A spokesperson for Juul Labs told NewsChannel 21 in a written statement Wednesday: "We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective."
Sen. Jeff Merkley also released a statement, saying it's about time the FDA takes action to address a longstanding problem.
"I can only hope that today's action is made permanent soon, and that it will come in time to save the thousands of lives that may still be at risk," Merkley said.
Moreland switched from smoking regular cigarettes to the Juul. She said she plans to switch back because of the risks associated with e-cigarettes.
Merkley said, "It should never have taken multiple deaths and hundreds of cases of teenagers with lung disease for the FDA to conclude that e-cigarette flavors like ‘gummy bear,' ‘Scooby snacks,' and ‘strawberries and cream' are insidious and have no place on the market."