The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has taken decisive action against unauthorized vape importers by seizing over $18 million worth of illicit products at the Los Angeles International Airport.
After months of analyzing shipping documents, the FDA collaborated with Customs & Border Protection to pinpoint multiple shipments, primarily from China, suspected of containing illegal disposable vapes. During a concentrated three-day operation at LAX, authorities confiscated thousands of vapes from brands such as Elf Bar, EB Designs, Lost Mary, RELX, and Funky Republic.
The FDA revealed that many of the 41 intercepted shipments were deceptively labeled as innocuous items like toys or shoes to evade detection and import duties.
FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf emphasized, “We are steadfast in our mission to halt the influx of illicit e-cigarettes into the U.S.” He further commented on the deceptive tactics employed by certain companies, stating, “These entities will employ various strategies to introduce unauthorized tobacco products, especially those appealing to the youth, into our country. Together with our federal counterparts, we are committed to intercepting these shipments before reaching our young citizens.”
Recent data from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey highlighted flavored disposable vapes as the preferred choice among American teenagers. Specifically, Elf Bar emerged as the leading brand among young e-cigarette consumers.
Furthermore, the FDA plans to intensify measures by placing specific companies under heightened scrutiny, effectively placing them on an import watchlist, to curb the illicit trade of electronic nicotine devices.
Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, issued a warning, stating, “Those brazenly attempting to sneak illegal e-cigarettes, particularly those targeting the youth demographic, into the U.S. should be forewarned. Federal agencies are alert to these illicit activities and will take decisive action. The substantial value of the confiscated products underscores the risks involved, urging these offenders to adhere to the law.”
All unauthorized disposable vapes, which are expected to be the majority, will be seized by the government and disposed of in compliance with legal protocols.