FDA Expands E-Cigarette Investigation Into Illegal Sales
Federal regulators have expanded their crack down on e-cigarette manufacturers, probing into attempts to illegally market the popular vaping devices toward children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it issued letters of inquiry to 21 e-cigarette manufacturers on October 12, calling for information about 40 different vaping products.
The agency is investigating whether the companies have released new products that have not been approved by the FDA, including existing products that were modified or redesigned.
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The letters were sent by the Center for Tobacco Products to a number of e-cigarette companies, including Eonsmoke, Kandypens, American Vapor and others. Many make products that are compatible with larger manufacturers’ products. For example, Eonsmoke makes pods that are compatible with JUUL devices.
At issue are whether those devices meet FDA compliance and premarket approval requirements. If not, the agency says they are being marketed illegally.
The letters are a part of the larger FDA Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan aimed to address youth vaping addiction. Recently, the FDA commissioner called the increase in use among teens an “epidemic” and the agency is focusing on raising awareness of the problem.
The FDA move comes only days after the agency conducted a surprise inspection of e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL’s corporate headquarters, seizing thousands of documents related to sales and marketing.
JUUL is one of the largest manufacturers of e-cigarettes, accounting for nearly 30% of total sales in the U.S. JUUL’s sales skyrocketed from $2.2 million in 2016 to $16.2 million in 2017 as popularity of the products rises.
Data indicates teens are increasingly vaping, with more than 2 million middle and high school students admitting to being current users. In response, the FDA is ramping up efforts to limit the impact of a growing epidemic.
“Companies are on notice – the FDA will not allow the proliferation of e-cigarettes or other tobacco products potentially being marketed illegally and outside of the agency’s compliance policy, and we will take swift action when companies are skirting the law,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release. “The FDA remains committed to the potential opportunity for e-cigarettes to help adult smokers transition away from combustible cigarettes. But we cannot allow that opportunity to come at the expense of addicting a whole new generation of kids to nicotine.”
In recent years, e-cigarettes have become the most popular form of tobacco among the nations’ youth. Flavored e-cigarette products are widely considered one of the primary reasons a younger generation has become addicted to vaping. Research indicates when teens vape flavored products they are more likely to smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes later.
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