FDA Threatens E-Cigarette Companies With Product Removal

It's just the latest development in the FDA's war on vaping.



The Food and Drug Administration gave 21 electronic-cigarette companies a choice today: Either prove their products aren't breaking FDA rules, or be forced to stop selling them.

The agency's latest crackdown against vaping manufacturers is not particularly surprising. Rather, it's just the latest development in the FDA's war on vaping.

In a press release, the agency said it sent letters to 21 companies "about whether more than 40 products—including some flavored e-cigarette products—are being illegally marketed and outside the agency's current compliance policy." As CNBC notes, e-cigarette products introduced after August 8, 2016 need FDA approval before they can go on the market. The agency apparently believes some products are being sold without the relevant approval.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has now threatened the companies with enforcement actions. "Companies are on notice—the FDA will not allow the proliferation of e-cigarettes or other tobacco products potentially being marketed illegally and outside of the agency's compliance policy, and we will take swift action when companies are skirting the law," he says. "If products are being unlawfully marketed and outside the FDA's compliance policy, we'll act to remove them."

The companies warned included three major players in the industry: British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Brands, and Japan Tobacco. Spokespeople for BAT and Japan Tobacco both tell CNBC that their products are in compliance with FDA rules. An Imperial Brands spokesperson, meanwhile, tells Reuters that its "myblu" e-cigarette products are in compliance as well. Juul Labs Inc., easily the most popular e-cigarette manufacturer in the U.S., did not receive a letter. That's because the FDA recently conducted an "unannounced on-site inspection of its corporate headquarters, which sought similar information about its marketing practices," the agency says.

The FDA has been regulating tobacco products since 2009, but only since 2016 has the agency also had authority over the e-cigarette industry, according to Bloomberg. Gottlieb is particularly worried about the effect of vaping on teenagers. Last month, in fact, his agency threatened to ban vaping products unless manufacturers could figure out how to stop teens from using them. "Given the explosive growth of e-cigarette use by kids, we're committed to taking whatever measures are appropriate to stem these troubling use trends," Gottlieb said Friday.

But Gottlieb's crusade against vaping is misguided. As Reason's Jacob Sullum explained last month, what Gottlieb refers to as an "unfortunate tradeoff" is potentially deadly. Research shows that often it's the various flavors that help adults make the switch from combustible tobacco to e-cigarettes. By impeding adults' access to e-cigarettes in an effort to stop teens from vaping, the FDA is deterring smokers from choosing the safer alternative.

Plus, while teenage use of e-cigarettes among teenagers seems to be on the rise, adolescent smoking rates are actually going down.

NEXT: San Francisco Is About to Let Electric Scooters Back on the Streets. But One Scooter Company Isn't Happy.

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  1. Prove your innocent or be punished!

    1. S/B Prove your innocence or be punished!

    2. Be punished even after you prove you are innocent is more like it.

  2. “e-cigarettes or other tobacco products”

    They are not e-cigarettes, they are vaporizers.
    Vaporizers are not tobacco products. No tobacco anywhere. None.
    Vaporizer fluid does not have to contain nicotine.

    Like gun control, this is a mad rush to regulate to extinction a non-tobacco product because “it looks like smoking, so it must be evil”.
    They may as well regulate exhaling when it is cold enough to condense your breath.

    1. Or fog machines on stage. Same stuff.

    2. Bottom line: It isn’t about public health, it’s puritanism. And they don’t really mind if banning vaping results in people returning to tobacco and dying of it. It’s what people who would smoke deserve, after all.

      Recently saw an ad by some new group called “Truth”. (They were “Truth” the way your average People’s Democratic Republic is democratic.) They hide behind a claim of health, but the puritanism shines through clear as day.

  3. The FDA and Gottlieb are a disgrace. The real blame for this shambles belongs to public health nanny crusader Stanton Glantz.

    It sucks what has been happening to vapers, but I’d have a lot more sympathy for them and the vaping business if they hadn’t jumped on the public health bandwagon to demonize smokers in their born-again quest for immortality. Cozying up to the asshats in public health was their first mistake. They were warned, however, but failed to listen. This was always going to happen.

  4. Fine, I’ll just go back to smoking crack the regular way.

    1. ^^ true libertarian

  5. Vaping proposes a problem that Cigarettes didn’t: People can make their own vaping equipment, where it was a little tricky to make a quality cigarette from seed to product.

    1. Man, they’re gonna HATE that. Probably need legislation with jail time for that kind of behavior, which is clearly defiant of decisions made by Top. Men. in the bureaucracy.

      1. Vape juice is essentially a food product. The vape mechanism itself- the coil could probably sold in the way “banned” magazines were sold– in part that the end user could assemble etc.

        1. There are medical nebulizers that use ultrasonics to vaporize drugs in liquid form, if you want to get rid of the coil from an e-cig.

        2. You will soon be able to 3D print your own ecigs, which will make the powers that be shit their pants almost as much as with 3D printed guns

  6. I wish the government would regulate the Fidget Spinner so I could read Reason’s opinions on that thing.

  7. I wish the government would regulate the Fidget Spinner so I could read Reason’s opinions on that thing.

  8. Thank God for the Nanny State.
    Otherwise people would be forced to make decisions for themselves.

  9. Gottlieb is particularly worried about the effect of vaping on teenagers.

    No he isn’t, he’s just another in a long line of modern-day Torquemadas looking for sinful souls to consign to the cleansing fire. You just have to suspect these people have something dark, sick and twisted buried deep within their psyches, they scrub and they scrub but no matter how hard they scrub the stain can’t be erased.

    1. Gottlieb was initially somewhat favorable towards e-cigs. Either BigPharma, who pays a lot into the FDA, grabbed him by the neck and told him to tow the line, or Someone decided that banning ecigs is going to help win over the critical soccer mom vote just in time for the midterms. Dick Morris actually helped stir up a panic over teen smoking back in the Clinton administration, maybe he’s working for Trump now.

      1. Gottlieb never stuck me quite that way. What I gathered was that he was generally a good guy because he wasn’t prejudiced vs. vape, kratom, etc. in that he would just let the usu. understanding of food & drug law take its course?which is a lot better than we’d been getting & that the Democrats wanted. Unfortunately that means a lot of products are going to have to go underground because their markets are too fragmented to supply the $ needed for any entity to play by the established rules. This is the fault of Congress, not the FDA.

  10. Almost makes you wonder if the FDA is on the take from Big Tobacco, until they get their own vaping products market-ready.

    1. They already have their products on the market. Vuse is made by Reynolds (now British American) and Mark ten by Altria. It’s funny how Juul is the only independent company and they are the ones setting the most shit from the FDA. This is probably all just Kabuki theatre to get Juul off the market so big tobacco can keep its share

  11. I switched to vaping a few years ago. It’s a great way to quit smoking, and vastly healthier according to any sane reading of the facts. The FDA can eat a bag of dicks.

    1. Someone who smoked, now vapes, is as dumb as a bag of dicks.

      What was wrong with your parents?

      1. Oh give it up idiot.

        You know that being a couple dozen pounds overweight is more likely to kill you than being a pack a day smoker right? And smoking half a pack a day or less is basically statistically irrelevant as far as health outcomes? Vaping, according to the British government, is probably about 95% safer than smoking… In other words, likely as close to zero risk as one can get. Even if there is some small increase, it’s probably less than being sedentary watching an extra hour or two of TV a day, or eating a little too much bacon, etc. Life is not risk free, there are tradeoffs for getting your kicks!

        I’m skinny. Even if I kept smoking, I’d statistically live longer than all the fat fucks out there in the world. I enjoyed smoking, so if it knocked a year or three off the shitty end of my life, so what? Since I quit now, I doubt even that will happen.

  12. Everybody I know who vapes, used to smoke, and is better off from the switch.
    Starting in junior high school, they should be handing kits to smokers, for free.

    One of our local pecksniffs went before city council begging them to outlaw vaping in parks because cops couldn’t tell who was smoking and who was vaping. This is the same twit who says he hacks and coughs if someone lights a cigarette on the other side of a football stadium.
    Unfortunately, city council listened to him.

    1. When the revolution comes, make sure to take care of him! There is no room for whiney busy bodies in the new order! 🙂

  13. Vaping is by no means safe. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor which raises blood pressure and strains the heart. It also causes the release of fat and cholesterol leading to clogged arteries.

    1. Internet commenting is by no means safe. Comments raise blood pressure and strain the heart. They also causes the release of fat shaming and authoritarianism leading to clogged thinking.


    2. I smoked for 20+ years and have vaped for 7-my blood pressure, cholesterol, and lipids have always been below average

      1. I hope someday you are strong enough to be able to live without that type of crutch.

      2. Yup. That’s the thing, is it is variable with different people. My heart and blood pressure are literally text book PERFECT. But my lungs weren’t too stoked on smoking a pack + a day. So I switched to vaping. Now I’m rock solid across the board.

        Some fat fuck lecturing me about smoking, even if I still did it, would be laughable. I’ve told people this before to their face too. If I shouldn’t smoke, maybe they should put down the cheeseburgers first!

    3. But not all vaping even uses nicotine. Even when vaping uses nicotine, how’s it any more dangerous than the gum?

      1. It’s not, and the people who freak out about it are idiots. As I said above, even smoking under half a pack a day is almost just statistical noise in health risks. It’s at 1 pack plus that it becomes a major problem, and 2 + is for realz shit.

        It’s kinda like how being 10 pounds overweight isn’t a big deal, 50 pounds is definitely going to cause you some problems, and being 150 pounds overweight is guaranteed to kill you real young. They always leave out that the amount of smoking matters A LOT.

    4. The real damage from smoking is from the smoke, including some really, really nasty compounds peculiar to tobacco; You can get cancer just from handling tobacco, without even consuming it; That’s why chewing tobacco has such nasty effects. Because it’s tobacco, not because it contains nicotine.

      That’s why the tobacco industry dropped the low nicotine products; People smoked more to get the same dose of nicotine, and hurt their health even more.

      Nicotine? It’s just a stimulant, the effects are quite similar to caffeine.

      1. No it causes hardening of the arteries and heart disease. Nicotine alone will kill you.

        1. Bullshit.

          It’s a VERY minor bad thing. Even the full effects of smoking are less bad for you than being a couple dozen pounds over optimum weight.

          In short, eating an extra hundred or two calories a day more than you need is worse for you than smoking… Since nicotine is probably the LEAST harmful part of smoking, I’m gonna guess that the negatives JUST from nicotine are about as bad as from spending 5 extra minutes a day on screen time versus walking, or some other equally non important thing.

          You need to understand the concept of proportionality. Smoking a quarter ounce of crack a day would be really bad for you… Maybe lethal right off the bat? Being fat is less harmful than that, but still not good. Smoking a pack a day of cigs is less harmful than that. Vaping is less harmful than that. See, there’s a SCALE. It doesn’t go from PERFECT to IMMEDIATE DEATH.

          In terms of risks, vaping is probably within the statistical rounding error margin.

  14. WOW Lets drive another drug to the black market.
    Prohibition has never worked, and this is a bad idea….

    1. Prohibition didnt work in the garden of eden…
      And the laws came direct from god.

  15. Do you know the Song from Jessy J? Price Tag?
    its all about the Money Money Money…. and yes, its totally disgusting.

  16. I’m all for free market, but a free market should also adhere to ethics. Vaping itself is fine, but Juul made their products twice as addictive as other vaping products and cigarettes, and is directly marketing to young kids with flavors like bubble gum, including a vape device that looks like a small flash drive. Then they are shocked that 11 year olds in middle school are secretly vaping in devices that look deceptively like Sharpies and becoming very addicted.

    The vaping products and companies on the market were a safer alternative to cigarettes, and there were studies even lauding their safety and lack of negative health consequences, but then Juul had to go take it to another level. Customers/users themselves are now suing Juul for being too addictive.

    There’s a line, and it’s prudent not to cross it.

    1. So they’re “addicted”. What’s wrong w that? Isn’t that what every maker, & every consumer, of consumables wants? Use this & you’ll want to keep using it. That’s how everything is advertised, & it’s what the customer wants, or it wouldn’t be advertised that way.

    2. WTF are you talking about?

      There is no way for Juul to make it twice as addictive as other vaping products. You can buy vape juice in varying amounts of nicotine, and Juul does not make any juice that is twice the strength of others on the market.

      As for the flavors, I like more straight forward ones personally, but lots of the fruity flavors are good too. Some of my adults friends vape nothing but weird flavors. It has nothing to do with appealing to kids.

      As for the design of their unit, there were similar ones long before they came around. There are plenty of them on the market still. They just marketed their very shitty system to idiots. They’re crappy vapes, that are excessively expensive for what they are. They’re the Nike of the vape world… NOT good shoes, just hype that suckers bought into.

      Get your facts straight, and have a clue about the subject you’re discussing before you start talking smack next time.

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  19. I vape and I challenge any mother fucker that doesn’t and opens their fat fucking mouth about the”dangers” to a 5k. Hell, make it a half mar

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