LAKEVILLE, Minn. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing its efforts to reduce the number of teenagers using nicotine products by issuing a new round of warning letters to manufacturers, targeting products that are allegedly made to appeal to underage users.
On April 27, the FDA issued a press release saying it is requiring the removal of certain e-cigarette products and accessories from the marketplace, focusing on items that appear to entice young people to use them.
The FDA said it had issued 10 warning letters to retailers and manufacturers who sell, manufacture or import electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products that the FDA contends are unauthorized because they are “targeted to youth or likely to promote use by youth.”
It sent warning letters to marketers of products such as:
- A backpack and sweatshirt designed with pockets to conceal e-cigarettes, using hosing woven through the hidden pockets to deliver vapor.
- ENDS products resembling smartwatches or toys, such as a portable video game system or fidget spinner.
- E-liquids packaged like food products often marketed and appealing to youth, such as candy or featuring cartoon characters like SpongeBob Square Pants.
Under federal law, these kinds of products are considered to be tobacco products because they are made or derived from tobacco and intended for human consumption or components or parts of such products.
Warning letters are the first stage of the FDA’s enforcement efforts against ENDS and other products illegally on the market. The agency has adopted enforcement priorities against any ENDS product targeted to or likely to promote use by youth. Recipients of these warning letters must discontinue their sales, manufacture or import of these products or face additional actions such as injunctions, seizures or civil money penalties.
The FDA said it is especially disturbed by the manufacturers promoting the ease with which product use can be concealed from parents, teachers, law enforcement or other adults. The warning letters are intended to send a clear message to all tobacco product manufacturers and retailers that the FDA continues to closely watch the marketplace and will not tolerate this behavior.
The following retailers, manufacturers or importers received a warning letter, according to the FDA:
- Vaprwear Gear LLC (manufacturer, online retailer)
- Vapewear LLC (manufacturer, online retailer)
- Wizman Ltd. (manufacturer, online retailer)
- EightCig LLC (online retailer)
- Ejuicepack LLC (online retailer)
- Vape Royalty LLC (online retailer)
- VapeCentric Inc. (online retailer)
- Dukhan Store (online retailer)
- VapeSourcing (online retailer)
- Shenzhen Uwell Technology Co. Ltd., dba DTD Distribution Inc. (importer, retailer)
Retailers should remove these particular products on their shelves and be wary of similar products that manufacturers, distributors or importers approach them with that may be considered as targeting youth. Common sense should suggest to retailers that a product designed to conceal use or containing cartoon characters will be considered illegal. At the same time, it is worth noting that the majority of all but one of the 10 businesses targeted are online retailers, not brick-and-mortar stores, and the 10th is denoted as both an importer and retailer.
Thomas Briant is the executive director of NATO, a tobacco retailing association based in Lakeville, Minn. Reach him at email@example.com.