Lawmakers Challenge FDA Over Influx of Illegal Chinese E-Cigarettes Fueling Underage Vaping

Lawmakers from Virginia and Illinois have written a letter to the head of the Food and Drug Administration addressing the issue of illegal e-cigarettes flooding the United States, as exclusively provided to The Hill. In the letter, Representatives Rob Wittman and Raja Krishnamoorthi expressed concern over the large number of illegal vaping products from China entering the U.S. market, contributing significantly to underage vaping rates. They highlighted that more than half of all vaping products sold in the U.S. are now illegal products from China.

The lawmakers referenced data from the FDA indicating that a significant number of young people are using e-cigarettes daily, with flavored versions being their preference. They specifically called out a brand called Elf Bar, with 56 percent of users reporting using the product, which is illegally imported from China and features brightly colored e-cigarettes with various fruity flavors.

Critics have argued that these products are designed to appeal to children and young adults, despite the FDA ban on most fruit and mint-flavored e-cigarettes. The letter to the FDA questioned what measures the agency plans to take to stem the flow of e-cigarettes from China and whether it intends to enforce legal proceedings against manufacturers. Additionally, the lawmakers inquired about the FDA’s delay in reviewing pre-market tobacco product applications, which are required for new tobacco products to be legally marketed in the U.S.

This issue raises concerns about the effectiveness of current regulations and enforcement mechanisms in place to prevent the influx of illegal vaping products into the United States. The lawmakers’ efforts to hold the FDA accountable for addressing these concerns reflect a growing urgency to tackle the rise of underage vaping and the influx of illegal vaping products from overseas.