FDA Warns Vape Retailers to Stop Selling Elf Bar, Esco Bars
In a significant turn of events, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent warning letters to multiple retailers. These letters, received by dozens of stores nationwide, explicitly demand them to cease selling fruit and candy-flavored disposable e-cigarettes, particularly the top-selling brand, Elf Bar.
A Fight against Illegal Vapes
This decision by the FDA marks yet another attempt by regulators to put an end to the surge of illegal disposable vapes flooding US stores in recent years. Isn’t it quite concerning how rapidly such illicit products have become mainstream?
The Latest Action against Elf Bar
Just last month, the FDA ordered customs officials to seize incoming shipments of Elf Bar, Esco Bar, and two other brands at US ports. These products, interestingly enough, lack any FDA authorization. Flavors like cotton candy lure teenagers into this harmful habit, a fact that alarms regulators and prompts these drastic actions.
FDA’s Warning to Retailers
Now, the FDA has issued warnings to 189 convenience stores, vape shops, and other retail outlets.
“We’re not going to stand by as bad actors are profiting off the sale of illegal products that are addicting our nation’s youth,”
said Brian King, the FDA’s tobacco center director. Truly, the resolve in his words shows how committed the organization is to eradicate this issue.
The Challenge in Regulating
Despite the FDA’s continuous efforts, the vaping industry, worth billions, has proven challenging to regulate. Separate data released by government researchers show unauthorized e-cigarettes continue to flood the market. It’s quite a battle, isn’t it?
Rise in E-cigarette sales
Recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) revealed a sharp increase in the number of e-cigarette brands in the US. The count rose from 184 in early 2020 to 269 by the end of 2022. This spike in brands coincides with the burgeoning popularity of disposable e-cigarettes, further fueling the problem.
The Market Share of Disposables
According to research, disposables’ share of vaping sales has more than doubled from 24.7% in early 2020 to nearly 52% by the end of 2022. This stunning rise makes one wonder: what’s so appealing about these disposable variants?
The Success Story of Elf Bar
Surprisingly, Elf Bar was the best-selling disposable e-cigarette in the US by the end of last year, surpassing many other brands. Only reusable e-cigarettes Vuse and Juul had higher sales, indicating Elf Bar’s vast market penetration.
The Dark Side of Elfbar
The FDA and CDC have also highlighted concerns about Elf Bar in a separate report. The document detailed thousands of calls to US poison centers about e-cigarettes, mainly involving children under age 5. Isn’t it distressing how harmful substances are affecting our children?
When accidentally ingested, liquid nicotine can lead to severe consequences, including seizures, convulsions, vomiting, and brain injury. Over the past decade, reports of nicotine poisoning have fluctuated, but a sharp increase of over 30% was noted between last spring and March this year. It seems the menace is far from over, doesn’t it?
Even though brand information wasn’t reported in 95% of cases, Elf Bar emerged as the most frequently named product when it was. Quite telling, isn’t it? Despite the missing data, FDA’s King referred to the high number of reports involving Elf Bar as a “canary in the coal mine,” a grim warning indeed.
Behind the Scenes
iMiracle Shenzhen, a Chinese firm, manufactures Elf Bar. It is among a wave of e-cigarettes mimicking the path paved by Puff Bar, a popular brand that experienced a brief sales boom after regulators cracked down on older vaping products like Juul.
The Flavor Restrictions and Their Loopholes
In early 2020, the FDA limited flavors in reusable e-cigarettes to just menthol and tobacco, more popular with adults. However, these restrictions did not apply to disposable e-cigarettes, resulting in a thriving black market. Quite a loophole, wouldn’t you agree?
The Case of Puff Bar
After an attempt by the FDA to force Puff Bar off the market, the company resurfaced, stating it was now using lab-made nicotine. This type of nicotine didn’t fall under the FDA’s original oversight of tobacco-derived nicotine, and most disposable e-cigarette makers followed suit, creating an even bigger problem.
The Law Fights Back
Congress addressed this loophole last year. The new law required companies to remove their vapes from the market and file FDA applications. However, new products continue to launch, indicating a seemingly endless struggle against illegal vapes.