Get the scoop on the FDA’s latest moves against flavored e-cigarettes and how it might affect your choices.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken an important step towards reducing youth access to e-cigarettes by issuing warning letters to 189 retailers. This decisive action demonstrates the commitment of the FDA towards ensuring that e-cigarettes are not accessible to minors and protecting their health. The products in question are Elf Bar and Esco Bars, disposable e-cigarettes, found to be marketed in flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy that are known to attract young consumers.

Following a thorough nationwide inspection spree spanning several weeks, the FDA’s warning letters emerged as part of a rigorous crackdown on the sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes. FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., stated the FDA’s resolve to employ all its regulatory powers to keep these products from the youth. The actions stem from comprehensive marketplace data that led the FDA to identify these two brands as exceedingly popular and enticing to the young demographic.

Further cementing concerns, two studies were published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report on the risks of Elf Bar products among the young. The first study reveals Elf Bar as the leading disposable e-cigarette sold in the U.S. in December 2022, reflecting a close alignment with youth consumption patterns. This was corroborated by findings from the International Tobacco Control Survey which, as of August 2022, found Elf Bar to be the dominant disposable e-cigarette brand among individuals aged 16 to 19 in the U.S.

The second study disclosed an alarming number of e-cigarette exposure cases reported to U.S. poison centers within the past year, predominantly among children under the age of 5. Elf Bar was implicated more than any other brand in cases where brand information was available, almost exclusively among children under 5 years old.

Dr. Brian King, the accomplished Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), has emphasized the crucial role of every entity in the supply chain in preventing unauthorized e-cigarettes from landing on shelves. From retailers to producers and beyond, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that only safe and authorized products are available to consumers. He added that this enforcement action should serve as a potent reminder for compliance.

The FDA’s actions align with its commitment to mitigate the availability of e-cigarettes with high youth appeal. Last month, the FDA issued import alerts for Elf Bar and Esco Bars products, placing them on a red list for Detention Without Physical Examination, empowering the FDA to detain these products without on-the-spot inspection.

The FDA highlighted that Elf Bar and Esco Bars products lack the requisite marketing authorization and that the sale or distribution of unlawfully marketed products is subject to enforcement action. As of June 16, the FDA has issued over 570 warning letters and filed civil money penalty complaints against 12 e-cigarette manufacturers.

The FDA and the National Institutes of Health have joined hands to announce funding for the Center for Rapid Surveillance of Tobacco (CRST). This initiative aims to strengthen tobacco monitoring and keep up with the constantly changing industry landscape. With this new center, we can expect more efficient surveillance efforts and a greater understanding of emerging trends in tobacco use.

The FDA’s recent actions signal an unwavering commitment to safeguard the youth from the perils of e-cigarettes. Through enforcement and expanded surveillance, the regulatory body is actively responding to emerging trends and data, underscoring the critical importance of a multifaceted approach in protecting public health.

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