On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it has written warning letters to numerous merchants that sell disposable e-cigarettes with fruit and candy flavors, including the most popular brand right now, Elf Bar.
It’s the latest effort by authorities to combat the influx of unauthorized disposable vapes entering American stores in recent years.
Elf Bar, Esco Bar, and two more brands’ shipments can now be seized at U.S. ports thanks to FDA regulations issued last month.
All the goods lack FDA approval and contain flavors like cotton candy, which authorities claim may appeal to teens.
In its most recent action, the FDA claimed to have warned 189 gas stations, vape shops, and other retailers.
“We’re not going to stand by as bad actors are profiting off the sale of illegal products that are addicting our nation’s youth,” Brian King, the FDA’s tobacco center director, said in an interview. “Today’s action is just part of our long-standing efforts to address those products, particularly flavored disposable products.”
The FDA has attempted to control the multibillion-dollar vaping sector for years, but separate data revealed by federal researchers on Thursday showed that unlicensed e-cigarettes continue to be introduced.
According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 184 e-cigarette brands in the U.S. at the beginning of 2020 and 269 by the end of 2022.
The increase occurred at the same time when disposable e-cigarettes became more well-liked. According to the data, the proportion of disposables in vaping sales more than doubled from 24.7% in early 2020 to nearly 52% by the end of the previous year.
Data from IRI, which compiles sales data from convenience stores, petrol stations, and other retailers, was examined by researchers from the CDC and a nonprofit organization called Truth Initiative.
By the end of last year, Elf Bar was the third-best-selling e-cigarette and the best-selling disposable in the United States. Sales of only the Juul and Vuse reusable e-cigarettes from Reynolds American were higher.
Elf Bar was also mentioned by the FDA and CDC in a different report about thousands of calls to American poison control centers about e-cigarettes, mostly from children under five.
Liquid nicotine can result in seizures, convulsions, vomiting, and brain damage when accidentally consumed.
Over the past ten years, reports of nicotine poisoning have fluctuated, but according to government experts, calls surged by more than 30% between last spring and March of this year.
Brand information was not provided 95% of the time; however, when it was, Elf Bar was the most often mentioned product.
Despite the lack of information, FDA’s King referred to the numerous reports of Elf Bar as a “canary in the coal mine.”
Elf Bar, which is made by the Chinese company iMiracle Shenzhen, is one of several knockoff e-cigarettes that have followed in the footsteps of Puff Bar, a well-known disposable brand whose sales briefly reached the hundreds of millions as authorities cracked down on earlier vaping goods like Juul.
Early in 2020, the FDA only allowed the flavors menthol and tobacco, which are more well-liked by adults, in cartridge-based reusable e-cigarettes like Juul. On the other hand, since disposable e-cigarettes are thrown away after use, the flavor restriction did not apply to them.
Puff Bar relaunched after the FDA attempted to remove it from the market and claimed it was now using laboratory-made nicotine, exempting it from the FDA’s initial control over nicotine produced from tobacco. Most manufacturers of throwaway goods used the same strategy.
The gap was bridged by Congress last year.
Companies were legally required to take their vapes off the market and submit FDA applications, but new items keep coming out.