Tobacco-Free Kids & Allies Demand Harsh Enforcement Against Flavored Vapes

A letter from 78 special interest organizations calling for increased federal government enforcement against flavored vaping products—especially popular disposable vapes—was sent yesterday to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Troy Miller of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The letter was announced in a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids press release. Tobacco-Free Kids probably wrote the letter and organized support for it. Among the organizations signing onto the letter are tobacco control, medical specialty, education, and political groups.

The Tobacco-Free Kids letter echoes demands by cigarette giants R.J. Reynolds and Altria Group that the FDA enforce against vape products that have not received FDA authorization, and protect the handful of Big Tobacco vape products that have received FDA marketing permission. Wholesale removal of popular vaping products from the market would also increase falling cigarette sales for Altria and Reynolds.

The letter calls for the FDA and “its enforcement partners at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to use all the enforcement tools at their disposal against manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers to clear the market of unauthorized e-cigarette products, including flavored products that put young people at risk for nicotine addiction and other significant health harms.”

“Although FDA has issued over 600 warning letters to firms for manufacturing or selling new tobacco products without marketing authorization,” the letter says, “it has made sparing use of its stronger enforcement tools with respect to manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers, including civil monetary penalties (CMPs), no-tobacco-sale orders, product seizures, import restrictions, injunctive actions and criminal prosecutions. For example, as of the present time, FDA has filed CMP complaints against only 55 manufacturers and 108 retailers; injunctions have been sought against only seven manufacturers and there has been a single seizure pursuant to a civil forfeiture complaint. This level of enforcement activity is far from adequate, given the unprecedented scope of illegal e-cigarette sales.”

These 78 organizations, all of which claim to hate and work toward the destruction of the tobacco industry, now join the bizarre alliance fighting to protect the existing tobacco market. The "team of rivals" includes the tobacco industry, Democratic U.S. senators, mostly Republican state legislators working on behalf of the tobacco companies, and the vape-hating FDA leadership. 

The FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) has not authorized a single flavored vape product or a single bottled e-liquid—and has not granted marketing permission to a vape product of any kind since current CTP Director Brian King was appointed two years ago. 

The CTP is fully funded by tobacco company user fees, which are mostly generated by cigarette sales. Tobacco-Free Kids has previously collaborated with the tobacco industry on the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, and on the writing and passage of the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA authority over tobacco products.