The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that in an operation with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 33,681 units of e-cigarettes were seized with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $719,453.
The raid was part of an ongoing joint operation between the CBP and the FDA to intercept counterfeit or other violative e-cigarettes. This includes some flavored e-cigarettes imported to the US that do not meet Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) requirements, as amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act).
All tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, that are imported or offered for import into the US must comply with all applicable US laws, says the FDA.
One of the main goals of the CBP trade enforcement mission is to intercept illicit products that could harm American consumers. In the 2020 fiscal year, CBP seized 93,590 units of e-cigarettes that did not meet US federal regulations.
In December 2020, CBP also intervened to stop 42 separate shipments coming in from China, destined to various Texas counties. According to the FDA, the shipments included individual disposable flavored e-cigarette cartridges resembling the Puff Bar brand, including Puff XXL and Puff Flow.
While Puff Bar seems to have stopped its online sales and distribution in the US, it appears likely that it continues to distribute products to other retailers, including brick and mortar stores, says the FDA. A sign of this comes from the fact that the website’s store locator is still active, suggesting that potential consumers are still able to locate products at retail stores.
In the press release from the FDA, CBP Port Director Timothy Lemaux said, “Many counterfeit, unapproved or unauthorized products are likely produced in unregulated facilities with unverified ingredients posing a serious health concern to consumers. It is especially alarming when these types of counterfeit and unauthorized products find their way into the hands of children as studies indicate.”
He added that, “We will continue to take every opportunity to work with our partners at the FDA to intercept and seize products that threaten US consumers.”
The FDA has an ongoing, aggressive mission to act against illegally marketed tobacco products, particularly in light of the public health crisis of youth e-cigarette use in America. As part of the effort, the FDA barred the entry of at least 150 electronic nicotine delivery systems products in 2020 alone as they violated the FD&C Act.
Despite a survey conducted in 2020 that found that e-cigarette use has been on the decline among youth in the US, the FDA continues to strictly monitor and warn e-cigarette manufacturers. It issued over a dozen warning letters to several e-cigarette makers in 2020, including XL Vape LLC (which conducts business as Stig Inc., Flavour Warehouse LTD (which conducts business as Vampire Vape) and Pretty Women UK LTD (T/A Coil2oil and Mad Kingdom Liquids) for illegally marketing unauthorized menthol-flavored e-liquids.
The warning letters notified the companies to remove their products from the market.
“Protecting American consumers from illicit and especially harmful tobacco products, such as counterfeit or flavored e-cigarettes, is of utmost importance to the FDA,” said Judy McMeekin, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “We will continue to investigate and remove from the marketplace products that pose a particular danger to the public health.”