Vaping Knockoffs Flood Market

Manufacturers point to counterfeit products as fueling teen vaping crisis.

October 08, 2019

WASHINGTON—The United States is battling a skyrocketing black market for vaping products, which have contributed to a rise in teen vaping and a lung illness that has hospitalized hundreds and killed at least 19 people, The Wall Street Journal reports.

There are hundreds of vaping brands on the street, some with nicotine and others with compounds made from cannabis or other substances. The vaping-related illnesses have yet to be linked to a single product or ingredient, but many of those with the lung sickness report the cartridges contained THC.

“The black market needs to be shut down, and legal, safe product will protect the public,” said Bill Loucks, co-founder of TKO Products, which holds a California license to sell THC vape cartridges. TKO Products have been battling the introduction of counterfeited, unregulated versions of their products. “The knockoffs are being knocked off as the packaging is for sale on Chinese websites,” he said. “Someone buying a TKO fake won’t know if it was made by the same people as the last one they bought.”

JUUL Labs has filed lawsuits to halt hundreds of online companies from selling counterfeit products, many of which can be traced to China. During the second quarter of 2019, JUUL has requested more than 7,000 counterfeit online listings be yanked. The company has also gone after companies making unauthorized JUUL-compatible pods in flavors attractive to children, such as grape soda and rainbow drops.

Federal and state governments are already moving to curtail vaping. New York and Michigan will ban most flavored e-liquids used for vaping, and the Trump Administration has plans to do the same nationwide. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has asked 90 electronic cigarette makers to remove contraband products. “The FDA continues to work on all fronts to tackle the troubling epidemic of youth e-cigarette use,” including investigating counterfeit e-cigarette products, an agency spokeswoman said.