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Electronic cigarette maker halts store sales

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WEST HARTFORD -- The nation’s leading electronic cigarette maker halted store sales of some flavors to deter use by children.

The move by JUUL Labs, which has become the top-selling U.S. brand of e-cigarettes, comes ahead of an impending government crackdown on underage sales of the products.

The products have become popular through Instagram and other social media accounts, which the company has agreed to shut down.

Amgad Saleh manages a convenience store in West Hartford. For him, electronic cigarettes have become his livelihood. He doesn’t smoke them; he sells them and they turn a profit.

"I make money from this stuff," said Saleh.

Saleh said mango and mint are the two most popular flavors.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn liquid, often containing nicotine, into an inhalable vapor. Some products come in flavors with names like 'bubblegum' or 'cotton candy,' leading to criticism that the industry is marketing to children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called the rise of e-cigarette use by teenagers a public health tragedy, and sometime this week, the FDA plans to require strict limits on the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations across the country.

Amid tensions, on Tuesday, JUUL announced it would stop filling store orders for mango, along with some other flavors.

It's not just JUUL. Last month the FDA sent letters to many other e-cigarette companies seeking information, and this could help the FDA figure out how those companies have been marketing their products.

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