Schumer Calls for More Scrutiny of Counterfeit E-Cigs

Urges authorities to address flood of ‘fake’ pods
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON New scrutiny has emerged over the growth of counterfeit vaping products coming into the United States from overseas, with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) calling on several government agencies to ramp up evaluation of the problem, according to the senator’s website.

Schumer based his concerns on a recent seizure of hundreds of “fake Juul pods”—the liquid nicotine-filled packets that slide into the e-cigarette device—that were heading to the New York area, the senator reported.

Naming imports from China specifically, Schumer said manufacturers of these counterfeit products are “cashing in on the popularity of e-cigs here in New York and beyond.”

The imports are a concern for public health and safety, because they often come from unregulated facilities using substandard materials. “That is why, amidst an emerging ‘fake’ e-cig flavor-pod explosion, I am urging the feds to get real focused: Crack down on illegal online sales, implement plans to more vigorously inspect and detect illegal shipments, and altogether remove these faux pods from the U.S. marketplace,” Schumer said.

In correspondences with various agencies, Schumer requested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Postal Service work together to prevent the products from entering the country.

In a letter to the acting director of the FDA, Ned Sharpless, Schumer posed the following questions:

  • How does the FDA work with CBP and the Postal Service to inspect, detect and prevent counterfeit e-cigarettes?
  • How will the FDA’s recent agreement with CBP address the influx of counterfeit e-cigarettes from countries such as China? How will this agreement affect operations at the international mail facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Port of New York and New Jersey?
  • How does the FDA use its database the Operational and Administrative System for Import Support (OASIS) to inspect, detect and prevent counterfeit e-cigarettes from entering the country?
  • Has the FDA conducted specialized training or used advanced screening technology to improve the detection of counterfeit e-cigarettes?
  • What more, if anything, might [Sharpless] require from the legislative branch to address the spike in "fake" pods arriving to the United States and to curtail these shipments? 

“We have had success in reining in the kid-friendly flavors here at home,” Schumer said. “But now we have to demand the full attention of the FDA and CBP to beat back the fake e-cig flavor pods flooding the market and putting the health of young people at risk.”

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