In September, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a campaign against the illegal sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to teens that targets 1,300 retailers and 5 major manufactures. E-cigarettes, a $1 billion industry in the United States, are popular among teenagers due to their easy availability and concealment. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.1 million middle and high-school students used e-cigarette devices in 2017.
“Vaping” products are sold at local gas stations, bodegas, and “head shops”—stores that sell drug-related paraphernalia. Teens can also purchase e-cigarettes online and from second hand sellers on the street—including at metro stops and schools—without showing proof of age.
E-cigarette devices, which can also be used to smoke illicit substances, are easily concealed and often resemble pens or USB drives. They emit minimal vapor fumes and smell like fruit or other flavorings, allowing users to smoke indoors undetected.
Since September, the FDA has conducted 978,290 retail inspections, issued 77,180 warning letters and approximately 18,560 money penalties to violating retailers—including 29 retailers in the National Capital Region.
Five major e-cigarette manufacturers—Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL, and Logic—are required to submit plans to address and mitigate the prevalent access of their products to minors no later than November 11. The FDA expanded the award-winning “The Real Cost” public education campaign to further address the issue of accessibility and prevention of e-cigarette use in minors.
Additional warning letters were sent to online retailers “selling misleadingly labeled and/or advertised e-liquids resembling kid-friendly food products such as candy and cookies.”