In a record number of outreaches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters in June 2023 to 189 retailers for selling unauthorized tobacco products. Two notable brands included in the warning, Elf Bar and Esco Bars, sell disposable e-cigarettes that come in flavors that appeal to youth, such as bubblegum and cotton candy.

The warning letters come after a nationwide retailer inspection blitz to crack down on the sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes. FDA said it is continuously monitoring the marketplace and took action as emerging marketplace data led to concerns over their appeal and risks to young people. Researchers noted in a June 2023 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that Elf Bar, one of the companies issued a warning letter, was the most popular disposable e-cigarette sold in the United States in December 2022. In another set of data, researchers found thousands of e-cigarette exposure cases reported to poison centers in the United States in the past year.

“All players in the supply chain—including retailers—have a role in keeping illegal e-cigarettes off the shelves,” Brian King, PhD, MPH, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said. “This latest blitz should be a wake-up call for retailers of Elf Bar and Esco Bar products nationwide. If they’re waiting for a personal invitation to comply with the law, they might just get it in the form of a warning letter or other action from FDA."