FDA Begins Vape Marketing Enforcement

FDA Begins Vape Marketing Enforcement
FDA Begins Policy Enforcement, This Time For Vape Marketing

The upward ramp of FDA enforcement on e-liquid has seen another milestone. On May 1st, the FDA issued a press release detailing their first round of actions on e-liquid that they found in violation of their marketing and packaging requirements. The release states that it is part of “ongoing efforts to protect youth from the dangers of nicotine and tobacco products.”

“Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued 13 warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for selling e-liquids used in e-cigarettes with labeling and/or advertising that cause them to resemble kid-friendly food products, such as juice boxes, candy or cookies, some of them with cartoon-like imagery. Several of the companies receiving warning letters were also cited for illegally selling the products to minors.”

Their in-depth breakdown can be found here. 

This initial action is significant for a few reasons. It’s important to note how quickly it seems they have taken these steps, as the investigation into product labeling and advertising started in late 2017. The swift action shows just how seriously the FDA is taking potential marketing offenses. It is also telling that the FDA has enlisted assistance from the FTC to expedite this process.

Secondly, the warnings required rapid action from the offending companies. Both the FDA and FTC needed responses within 15 working days which should have detailed the actions taken by each company, with failure to do so resulting in further action such as seizure or injunction.

These warnings are simply the FDA taking note of something that many vapers have already seen: certain parts of this industry are alarmingly marketed, putting the whole industry in jeopardy. Luckily for the parts that are not conducted this way: the FDA is targeting these actions right now, and not blanketing them over all of vaping.

The American Vaping Association has, of course, taken notice of the FDA and FTC’s actions and has applauded their desire to eliminate misleading marketing, but they are “disappointed that the FDA is continuing to neglect its obligation to focus on adults as well.” In a press release by the AVA, President Gregory Conley expressed his appreciation for marketing actions, saying “flavors are critically important to helping adults quit smoking, but that is no excuse for crass, bottom-feeding marketing that violates US trademark laws,” but also has concerns that a true flavor ban might be next in line, noting that he is “concerned that the agency will expand their campaign to include responsibly marketed flavored products that are popular with adults looking for alternatives to combustible cigarettes.”

While the FDA’s current focus is that of the Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, there remain concerns that actions will soon stretch beyond that. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb continues to conduct interviews from the standpoint that the FDA’s main goal is to prevent youth access and use of tobacco products, something I think we can all agree with, and continues to reaffirm his stance that he does “see an opportunity from things like e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems potentially being a viable vehicle for adults who want to access nicotine.” In the meantime, the pro-vaping organizations continue to fight to ensure that as many facts as possible make their way to the surface because that’s the best way reach a common ground.


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