FDA Flavor Bans Create a Dangerous Black Market | Citizens Against Government Waste

FDA Flavor Bans Create a Dangerous Black Market

The WasteWatcher

The hysteria and fearmongering around the supposed increase of youth e-cigarette use have created the perfect storm for widespread government overreach and bans on tobacco harm reduction (THR) products.  The restrictions and prohibitions on THR products like e-cigarettes ignore the fact that they are less dangerous alternatives for adult smokers to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.  According to a February 2023 Metrics & Insights tobacco harm reduction survey, 74 percent of support the concept of harm reduction and 66 percent adults think the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should focus on harm reduction instead of prohibition.  

Yet, the stance taken by FDA and federal government officials has not reflected the nation’s sentiment on adopting tobacco harm reduction measures or the evidence of its success.  On May 12, 2023, the FDA issued marketing denial orders for approximately 6,500 flavored e-cigarette products.  

Even with the FDA’s crackdown on THR products, the number of different e-cigarette devices sold in the U.S. has tripled to more than 9,000 since 2020.  This increase is, unfortunately, driven mainly by unauthorized disposable vaping products from China.  Concern of such products led the FDA to issue 187 warning letters on May 25, 2023, to Shenzen Innokin Technology Co. Ltd., which makes Exco Bars products, and Breeze Smoke, LLC, which imports and distributes Breeze products.  According to the FDA, these firms have been manufacturing, distributing, and importing unauthorized tobacco products in the U.S.

If only someone could have predicted that banning regulated THR products would open a can of worms and drive sales to illicit and dangerous black-market alternatives, mostly from China.  A 2020 Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) blog post, Moonshine Vaping Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood, predicted China would be the largest driver of illegal vaping products now pouring into the U.S. marketplace.  The blog post stated, “Tobacco is a legal product in the U.S., and even if Congress could ban it, there is little doubt that China, which grows the most globally, and other sources would immediately create a black market.  The same result will occur if vaping flavors are banned.  Current adult users, who also like sweet and fruity flavors, will either go back to combustible cigarettes or take the chance and purchase products illegally, which will create a real crisis and endanger the health of millions of Americans.”

The demand for vaping products is undeniable despite a federal crackdown.  E-cigarette unit sales rose nearly 47 percent between January 2020 and December 2022.  The Centers for Disease Control recognizes that the most popular brands of disposable e-cigarettes on the market aren’t FDA-approved and are illegal, which was a key factor in the issuance of the FDA warning letters. 

CAGW has for many years been supportive of THR products and warned about the eruption of dangerous unregulated products coming to market due to FDA bans.  The FDA should instead approach the issue of tobacco harm reduction products with evidence-based data and logical reasoning, which is unfortunately far too often lacking in Washington, D.C. 

Sign Up For Email Updates

Optional Member Code