The federal agency said that the benefits of encouraging adult smokers to switch from traditional cigarettes outweigh the risk of hooking teenagers

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Young male worker smoking electronic cigarette
Man smoking an e-cigarette
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The Food and Drug Administration approved an e-cigarette company to begin marketing their products in the U.S. for the first time on Tuesday, a significant change after years of pushing back against vaping.

The FDA said that Vuse, an e-cigarette brand from the British company R.J. Reynolds, could promote their device and tobacco-flavored cartridges. The agency said that the benefits of encouraging adult smokers to switch from traditional cigarettes outweigh the risk of hooking teenagers on e-cigarettes.

"The FDA determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth," they said in a statement.

The FDA also said they had analyzed data from R.J. Reynolds that showed that the Vuse products "are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data."

Vuse electronic cigarette
Vuse vape
| Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty

The decision comes after the FDA had ordered several other e-cigarette companies, primarily Juul, to end their marketing tactics that had led to an enormous jump in teen vaping and cigarette use. Juul and another popular brand among adolescents, Puff Bars, had to pull their fruit-flavored products from the market on FDA orders.

The FDA said they also rejected 10 other Vuse flavors and only authorized the tobacco-flavored ones "because these products are less appealing to youth and authorizing these products may be beneficial for adult combusted cigarette users who completely switch to [e-cigarettes] or significantly reduce their cigarette consumption."

The FDA said that by approving Vuse for marketing, they are not endorsing the product or saying that it is "safe."

"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."

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Anti-tobacco groups such as Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids decried the decision, with president Matthew Myers saying in a statement that the authorization of "Vuse products with this level of nicotine leave our nation's youth at an undue risk of addiction."

The FDA said that they will continue to track teen tobacco use and could change or remove their authorization if there are any issues.

"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," said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "We will take action as appropriate, including withdrawing the authorization."