A federal judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration to start looking into thousands of e-cigarettes on the market after multiple public health groups sued the agency for postponing the reviews.
According to court documents filed Wednesday, Judge Paul Grimm ruled that the FDA's decision to delay its reviews into e-cigarette products for several years amounted to "an abdication of its statutory responsibilities."
He gave the agency and the public health groups 30 days to submit specific plans for moving forward with the product reviews.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups filed the lawsuit against the FDA last year. The suit says the lack of FDA regulation on e-cigarette products has contributed to a significant increase in underage vaping.
Last year, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students reported they were currently using e-cigarette products.
After Wednesday's ruling, the groups said in a joint statement: "It is now the FDA’s responsibility to take immediate action to protect our kids and require manufacturers to apply to the FDA if they want to keep their products on the market."
A spokesperson for the FDA told reporters the agency is looking into the ruling and "will continue to tackle the troubling epidemic of e-cigarette use among kids."
The judge's decision came the same day as North Carolina's attorney general announced the very first state lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juul.