June 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized four of Altria's menthol e-cigarettes for sale in the country on Friday, making them the first ever flavored vapes the agency has permitted on the market.

The FDA has raised concerns about the risk of young people using e-cigarettes, particularly the more appealing flavored products.

In the past, the agency has rejected applications for flavored vapes from other manufacturers, including British American Tobacco.

Marlboro maker Altria bought NJOY in March 2023 for about $2.75 billion in cash, renewing its bet on e-cigarettes as consumers adopt alternatives to traditional combustible cigarettes.

The FDA first began regulating e-cigarettes in August 2016 and has since made determinations on over 26 million applications for e-cigarette products. Including the flavored additions, it has authorized 27 e-cigarette products for sale in the U.S. to date.

"In this instance, the strength of evidence of benefits to adult smokers from completely switching to a less harmful product was sufficient to outweigh the risks to youth," said Matthew Farrelly, director of the Office of Science at the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

Altria did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The FDA's authorization comes at a time when the U.S. government is reviewing a potential ban on menthol cigarettes. Anti-smoking groups argue that flavored cigarettes lure young people into smoking and contribute to disproportionate health burdens on Black communities.

Earlier this month, the FDA rescinded market denial orders issued in 2022 for four varieties of JUUL Lab's tobacco and menthol-flavored pods and its e-cigarette device. (Reporting by Juveria Tabassum; Editing by Pooja Desai)