The Food and Drug Administration, charged with keeping Americans safe from harmful food and drugs, including restricting highly addictive disposable e-cigarettes for children, is failing in its primary mission.
Congress gave the federal agency the legal authority to limit the popular synthetic nicotine to minors in April 2022, but it has yet to act.
Now a convenience store that sells dozens of flavors of Puff bars and Hyde bars, including watermelon bubblegum and strawberry kiwi, is located just 250 yards from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) headquarters in the area. from Washington, DC.
The White Oak Convenience Store is located approximately 660 feet from the edge of FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and offers a variety of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, including Puff Bars, Elf Bars, and True Bars.
The FDA sent a warning letter to Puff Bar in October, but it’s unclear if it hasn’t exercised the same authority it used to ban flavored Juul pods from store shelves years ago.
The back and forth over flavored e-cigarettes has left the FDA catching up as manufacturers find new solutions to avoid taking their products off the market.
The Food and Drug Administration has not limited flavored e-cigarettes, although it has legal authority since April 2022.
A convenience store selling dozens of flavors of Puff bars and Hyde bars, including watermelon bubblegum and strawberry kiwi, sits just 250 years from FDA headquarters in the Washington, D.C. area
The store offers a variety of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, including Puff Bars, Elf Bars, and True Bars.
In early 2020, the FDA, under the Trump presidency, banned flavored e-cigarette cartridges such as Juul pods, causing great outrage among young vape smokers around the world. The move came after a viral ‘popcorn lung’ scare that some blamed on vaping.
That ban did not prohibit the sale of disposable e-cigarettes, giving rise to popular flavored vapes like Elf Bar and Puff Bar, which were turned to by children and young adults.
Puff Bar skyrocketed in popularity and profit, reaching over $170 million in sales in 2020
In July 2020, the FDA ordered Puff Bar off the market, saying it did not get the necessary clearance to be sold as tobacco products that came out after 2016 and had to get FDA clearance before going on sale.
But in 2021, Puff Bar found a solution and was back on the market. He came up with a new synthetic nicotine formula that put it out of the hands of FDA tobacco regulators. Other products followed the example of the Puff Bar.
In April 2022, Congress voted bipartisanly to close the loophole and give the FDA the authority to regulate synthetic nicotine.
Meanwhile, youth e-cigarette use has declined after an all-time high, but use of disposable vaping products has increased nearly 2,000 percent since 2019, according to the CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Study. .
More flavored disposable vaporizers pictured behind the counter
The White Oak Convenience Store is located approximately 660 feet from the edge of the FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland
As of 2022, 14.1 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of high school students reported regular use of e-cigarettes, some 2.55 million children. Flavored e-cigarettes still dominate the market among children: more than half of young e-cigarette users report using the disposable type.
According to the CDC, Puff Bar was the brand of choice for nearly a third of middle school and high school e-cigarette users.
“These numbers confirm that the e-cigarette epidemic in our country is far from over,” said Linda Neff, chief of the epidemiology branch of the CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health, according to NBC News. Our work is far from over.
“What is even more worrying is the frequency of use,” he added. “Among those who currently use e-cigarettes, more than 1 in 4 use them daily.”
Nearly half of high school teens said they vape every day.
Meanwhile, a recent study found that, in some cases, the nicotine content of certain disposables is mislabeled, with concentrations sometimes 1.5 times higher than the label.
A single disposable device can contain the nicotine of an entire pack of cigarettes. The Mojo brand claims that its product is ‘equivalent to approximately 20 cigarettes’.
As of July 13, 2022, synthetic nicotine tobacco products are supposed to have a marketing order from the FDA for sale, but many of these products are still on the market.
An FDA spokesperson said the agency issued a warning letter in October to Puff Bar for selling and receiving its products in the US without marketing authorization and requested a response within 15 days. But as the company points out on its website, the products are still fully on the market.
“If violations are not immediately addressed, the manufacturer risks regulatory action, including a civil monetary penalty, product forfeiture, and/or an injunction,” the FDA said at the time.
‘No, Puff Bars are not prohibited. No, it is not illegal to buy them. No they are not discontinued, and no they are not gone,” Puff Bar wrote on her website.
The company on its website sells dozens of kid-friendly flavors: Banana Ice, Sour Apple, Lemon Razz.
The FDA also said it took action against the Hyde brand, issuing marketing denial orders for 32 Hyde e-cigarettes. But flavors like strawberry, guava and mango ice cream are still on Hyde’s website.
“FDA remains vigilant in oversight of the market, both by reviewing submitted applications for marketing of e-cigarette products and by using our enforcement and compliance resources to remove illegal products, including disposables, from the market,” a spokesperson said.