On Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that, alongside the US Customs and Border Protection, it had seized approximately 1.4 million units of unauthorized e-cigarette products, including popular brands like Elf Bar and Funky Republic.
Both brands have previously received warnings from the FDA about the sale and distribution of unauthorized products targeted at minors.
The FDA said that the e-cigarettes were deliberately mislabeled as toys, shoes, or other items with incorrect values to avoid detection. In a coordinated three-day effort, 41 shipments were intercepted at a cargo examination site at Los Angeles International Airport.
All of the seized products, originating from China, have an estimated retail value exceeding $18 million. The FDA has mandated the forfeiture and destruction of these products.
In July, the FDA issued warning letters to several e-cigarette distributors for selling unauthorized products, particularly those appealing to minors. The surge in popularity of colorful and fruit- or candy-flavored vape products among young adults has prompted regulatory actions.
In a separate move on Wednesday, the FDA issued warning letters to 11 online retailers for the illegal sale of similar products.
The FDA added that only 23 tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products and devices are allowed to be sold in the US. New products require marketing authorization before going on sale while existing ones are permitted to stay on the market if manufacturers submit applications for continued approval.
As of this month, the FDA has issued more than 650 warning letters to firms for manufacturing, selling, and distributing new tobacco products without proper marketing authorization.
The agency has also filed civil money penalty complaints against 38 manufacturers and 67 retailers for the illegal sale of e-cigarettes. Distributors have 15 days to respond with corrective actions to prevent further violations.
The FDA added in a statement, “The FDA will continue to take appropriate action against those manufacturing, distributing, importing and/or selling unauthorized e-cigarette products, especially those most appealing to youth.
Unscrupulous companies try everything they can to bring unauthorized, youth-appealing tobacco products into the country. The FDA will remain vigilant, and together with our federal partners, stop these imports before they make it into the hands of our nation’s youth.”