To tackle the unauthorized and illegal sale and distribution of e-cigarettes and vaping products that “continue to jeopardize the health of Americans—particularly children and adolescents—across the United States,” according to Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, in June 2024 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the creation and launch of a new task force that brings together multiple law enforcement agencies.

By partnering with groups such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Federal Trade Commission, the FDA and DOJ’s task force coordinates and streamlines efforts to bring all available criminal and civil tools to bear against the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarettes responsible for nicotine addiction among American youth. “Additional agencies may join the task force in the coming weeks and months,” FDA said

“This interagency task force is dedicated to protecting Americans by combatting the unlawful sale and distribution of these products,” Mizer said. “And the establishment of this task force makes clear that vigorous enforcement of the tobacco laws is a government-wide priority.” 

In a 2023 survey, about 2.1 million youths reported currently using e-cigarettes, and 10% of high school students and 5% of middle school students reported currently using e-cigarettes—with more than 25% of them using the products daily. According to ONS’s Use of E-Cigarettes and Vaping position statement, “E-cigarettes emit toxins and harmful ultrafine particles, both of which pose potential health risks similar to secondhand smoke. Studies also have shown that vaping may cause respiratory and cardiac changes.”

To date, FDA reported, the agency has authorized the sale of 23 specific tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products and devices. “These are the only e-cigarette products that currently may be lawfully marketed and sold in the United States,” FDA said.

The agency has also issued more than 1,100 warning letters to manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers for illegally selling or distributing unauthorized new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and has filed civil money penalty complaints against more than 55 manufacturers and 140 retailers for the manufacture or sale of unauthorized tobacco products. And in partnership, the FDA and DOJ have obtained injunctions against six manufacturers to stop them from manufacturing and selling unauthorized e-cigarette products.

Find more information on e-cigarette regulation, including legal compliance and enforcement efforts, from the FDA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

ONS works with the U.S. Congress and the administration to prioritize policies and funding for cancer prevention, particularly efforts to combat tobacco and e-cigarette usage. In its 2024 Health Policy Agenda for the 118th Congress, second session, ONS identified addressing “tobacco and e-cigarette or electronic nicotine delivery systems prevention and control efforts, including providing the FDA with increased authority to regulate tobacco, e-cigarette and electronic nicotine delivery system products, including the use of menthol and other flavorings” as a primary oncology nursing advocacy priority.

Visit the ONS Center for Advocacy and Health Policy for more information, then go to the ONS Action Center to get involved, where you can find legislation, look up and contact your representatives, and more.