FDA Takes Action on Youth E-Cigarette Usage With Warning Letters to Retailers

August 21, 2023 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

In a record number of outreaches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued (https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-inspection-blitz-leads-more-180-warning-letters-retailers-illegal-sale-youth-appealing-elf-bar) warning letters in June 2023 to 189 retailers (https://www.fda.gov/media/169692/download?attachment=) 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 (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7225a1.htm?s_cid=mm7225a1_w) 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 (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7225a5.htm?s_cid=mm7225a5_w), 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 (https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-inspection-blitz-leads-more-180-warning-letters-retailers-illegal-sale-youth-appealing-elf-bar). “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."

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