The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it has issued warning letters to 189 retailers for selling unauthorized tobacco products, specifically Elf Bar and Esco Bars products. Both brands are disposable e-cigarettes that come in a variety of flavors.
“The FDA is prepared to use all of its authorities to ensure these, and other illegal and youth-appealing products, stay out of the hands of kids,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “We are committed to a multipronged approach using regulation, compliance and enforcement action and education to protect our nation’s youth.”
The warning letters were the result of a nationwide retailer inspection blitz over the past several weeks cracking down on the sale of these unauthorized e-cigarettes. The FDA continuously monitors the marketplace and took these actions as emerging marketplace data led to concerns over their appeal and risks to young people. More specifically, the agency’s ongoing surveillance efforts helped FDA identify Elf Bar and Esco Bars as being among the most popular brands in the United States and having high youth appeal.
“All players in the supply chain—including retailers—have a role in keeping illegal e-cigarettes off the shelves,” said Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). “This latest blitz should be a wake-up call for retailers of Elf Bar and Esco Bars products nationwide. If they’re waiting for a personal invitation to comply with the law, they might just get it in the form of a warning letter or other action from the FDA.”
The actions are the latest in the FDA’s efforts to address e-cigarettes that have a high youth appeal, including flavored disposable products. To help prevent these products from illegally entering the marketplace, last month, the FDA issued import alerts for all products under both the Elf Bar and Esco Bars brands. An import alert places these tobacco products on the red list, which makes them subject to Detention Without Physical Examination and allows the FDA to detain a product without physically examining it at the time of entry.
As of June 16, the FDA has issued more than 570 warning letters to firms for manufacturing, selling and/or distributing illegal tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and filed civil money penalty complaints against 12 e-cigarette manufacturers. In October 2022, the first complaints for permanent injunctions were filed against six e-cigarette manufacturers.
To further expand surveillance capabilities of the dynamic tobacco landscape, the FDA and the National Institutes of Health announced earlier this month that funding was awarded for a new Center for Rapid Surveillance of Tobacco. This specialized center will complement CTP’s internal surveillance efforts by providing additional rapid information about changes in the tobacco product marketplace and tobacco use patterns.
Ensure your c-store is in compliance with regulatory standards by exploring FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products on the NACS website.