(Adds comment from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, background)
April 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said it launched a crackdown on the sale of e-cigarettes and tobacco products to minors, particularly those developed by Juul Labs Inc.
The regulator said bit.ly/2qUJYff it had issued 40 warning letters to retailers, including multiple 7-Eleven stores, for violations regarding illegal sales of Juul products, after uncovering violations through compliance checks since the beginning of March.
"The FDA has been conducting a large-scale, undercover nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of e-cigarettes – specifically Juul products – to minors at both brick-and-mortar and online retailers," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, commended the FDA's action, but said the regulator must do more "by taking off the market Juul flavors like mango and cool cucumber that clearly appeal to kids".
E-cigarettes are handheld electronic devices that vaporize a fluid typically including nicotine and a flavor component. They have been grabbing market share away from traditional tobacco companies, and are available in different flavors.
The FDA said that such products are also more difficult for parents and teachers to recognize or detect, potentially adding to its appeal for the youth.
Juul Labs, launched in 2015, brands its products as an alternative for adult smokers. The San Francisco-based firm offers a number of products designed for tobacco as an alternative to ordinary cigarettes, including e-cigarettes and vaporizers.
Juul in a statement said it agreed "with the FDA that illegal sales of our product to minors is unacceptable" and would announce "more aggressive plans" regarding the violations in the coming days.
The FDA also said eBay Inc removed several listings of Juul products after the regulator raised concerns. (Reporting by Manas Mishra and Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)