With more American teens taking up e-cigarettes, there's a flood of products designed to allow them to vape without getting caught by parents or teachers -- and federal officials want to put a stop to it.
On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it was sending warning letters to 10 manufacturers to stop making these products targeting youth.
"The public should really be outraged by these products," said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.
The products being targeted by the FDA include:
- Backpacks and sweatshirts designed with stealth pockets to hold and conceal an e-cigarette
- Vaping products that resemble smartwatches or children's toys such as a portable video game system or fidget spinner
- vaping liquids that imitate packaging for food products that often are marketed and appeal to youth, such as candy, or feature cartoon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants.
"The FDA is especially disturbed by some of these new products being marketed to children and teens by promoting the ease with which they can be used to conceal product use," Zeller said. Of course, the products appeal to kids because they allow "them to conceal tobacco product use from parents, teachers, law enforcement or other adults," he said.
Warning letters were issued to: Vaprwear Gear, LLC, a manufacturer and online retailer; Vapewear, LLC, a manufacturer and online retailer; Wizman Limited, a manufacturer and online retailer; EightCig, LLC, an online retailer; Ejuicepack, LLC, an online retailer; Vape Royalty, LLC an online retailer; VapeCentric, Inc., an online retailer; Dukhan Store, an online retailer; VapeSourcing, an online retailer; Shenzhen Uwell Technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a DTD Distribution Inc., an importer and retailer.
If the companies don't stop the manufacture, distribution or sale of these unauthorized products, they risk additional FDA action such as an injunction, seizure or fines, the agency said in a news release.
"These warning letters should send a clear message to all tobacco product manufacturers and retailers that the FDA is keeping a close watch on the marketplace," Zeller said. "If you're marketing or selling these products to youth, the FDA will not tolerate it."
One anti-smoking/vaping advocacy group applauded the FDA's move, but said more can and should be done.
"Today's FDA action is a timely reminder of how the e-cigarette industry continues to shamelessly target kids with its products and marketing," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and banning products that allow kids to hide a vaping habit is "a positive step."
But Myers said a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes -- thought to be especially enticing for teens -- would go even further in curbing vaping among youth.
"Rather than clearing the market of all flavored e-cigarettes, as it initially proposed, the Trump administration in February implemented a loophole-ridden policy that left thousands of flavored e-cigarettes for sale, and provided a roadmap for manufacturers to continue targeting and addicting kids," Myers said in a news release from his organization.
"The kid-friendly products that remain on the market include cheap, disposable e-cigarettes sold in an assortment of flavors, nicotine e-liquids sold in over 15,000 flavors, refillable devices and menthol-flavored pod products like Juul," Myers noted.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the risks of vaping.
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