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Federal investigators have issued several warnings to distributors of e-cigarettes who were found to be selling the addictive nicotine products to underage children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued three separate warnings to online e-cigarette distributors on October 22, citing violations that include selling nicotine to minors, misbranding nicotine e-liquids, and failing to include nicotine addiction warnings on the advertised products.
The FDA warning letters were issued this week to Bowser Trading Corporation, Busscatello Enterprises LLC and VapeLoft Inc., indicating that all three companies have violated laws prohibiting the sale of nicotine products to minors.
Regulators also said companies failed to disclose the health and safety risks of vaping products on their websites and have misbranded their products by failing to include “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical,” which the FDA has required since August 2019.
The letters indicate the manufacturers have 15 days to respond with the corrective actions designed to prevent the violations from occurring further, or potentially face civil money penalties, no-tobacco-sale orders, criminal prosecution, seizure, and/or injunction by the agency.
The warning letters indicate all three companies have been found in violation of rules extending the agency’s authority to oversee and regulate the sale of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, e-liquids, vaporizers and their associated parts. The new rule also grants authority to regulate cigars, hookahs and pipes which have become increasingly popular among younger consumers.
Vaping A Growing Threat To Teens
Given the popularity of e-cigarette products among teens and the growing threat of vaping addictions, U.S. regulators and health officials have been working to curb the nicotine addiction “epidemic” across the country.
Critics have claimed e-cigarette marketing has been directed towards teens and children in recent years, fueling the widespread use of e-cigarettes in the United States. A recent study indicated that e-cigarette advertising reaches 80% of middle and high school students in the U.S. Another study warns vaping during adolescence quadruples a teen’s risk of becoming a cigarette tobacco smoker later.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates vape products and e-cigarette use spiked almost 80% among high school students and 50% among middle school students in the past year, estimating around 3.6 million teens to be e-cigarette users.
In recent months, about 1,500 people nationwide have fallen ill to respiratory injuries linked to vaping, including about 33 deaths, according to the CDC.
The outbreak was first reported by health officials in Illinois and Wisconsin only three months ago, after several cases of severe lung injury were identified, where e-cigarettes were the only common factor. However, since then, health officials nationwide have either identified similar cases, or realized they had treated similar cases without knowing about the e-cigarette connection.
A report by CDC researchers released a few days ago found growing evidence that vaping products made with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be linked to the e-cigarette illnesses, but researchers say they are not yet able to make a conclusive determination.
In recent months, there has been increased scrutiny of e-cigarettes, which have become the most popular form of nicotine among teens and young adults. In addition to the risk of e-cigarette respiratory illnesses, there is also now a new generation of teens addicted to JUUL, which contains high levels of nicotine and was aggressively marketed to individuals who were not prior cigarette smokers.
As a result a growing number of JUUL addiction lawsuits are also now being pursued against the manufacturers, alleging that the products were illegally marketed to kids while failing to disclose that each of the e-cigarette pods contain more nicotine than a pack of tobacco cigarettes.