US legislator considers lifting the ban on e-cigarette flavors

The ban on e-cigarette flavors that many states in the United States are considering has recently shown signs of reversal.

The consideration behind the e-cigarette flavor ban is to protect minors from being attracted. At present, only a handful of states have successively passed bills related to flavor bans and introduced enforcement measures. For example, the Governor of New York State announced in 2020 that from July 1, 2020, retailers in the state will ban the sale of e-cigarettes in flavors such as fruits and candies, and only sell tobacco and menthol flavors.

US Rhode Island State Assemblyman Julie Casimiro was also a proponent of the flavor ban at first. But after visiting regular e-cigarette stores on the spot and getting an in-depth understanding of adults’ use of flavored e-cigarettes, Julie changed her attitude towards e-cigarettes.

Not only did she publicly retract her previous remarks, she also published an article advocating a “reasonable e-cigarette policy” in a US newspaper. After that, she proposed a new e-cigarette bill and actively promoted the holding of related hearings.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is also an opponent of this ban. In an open letter, Ron mentioned that banning flavored e-cigarettes may lead to more people returning to traditional cigarettes. Julie once published an article in the US “Providence Daily” calling for the rational use of e-cigarettes. In the article, Zhu Li emphasized that the majority of consumers who use flavored e-cigarette products are adults. “These adults are not choosing flavored e-cigarettes because they like desserts, but are using these products to quit smoking.”

The latest research from the University of Melbourne shows that smokers who choose flavored e-cigarettes have an OR value (odds ratio) of 1.61 for smoking cessation, while the OR value of menthol used is 0.87, which is nearly twice as high. Another study from Yale University also found that using flavored e-cigarettes is 2.3 times more likely to quit smoking than using tobacco flavors.

The reason why the U.S. government ordered the ban on flavored e-cigarettes is because they are worried that such portable and rich-flavored e-cigarette products will attract more American teenagers to try.

In a bill, Julie once proposed that e-cigarette advertisements cannot contain leading words such as “candy”, cannot display certain images that deliberately attract minors, and cannot mention “known to attract minors” and elements of popular culture.

Why The USPS, Fed-Ex and DHL Won’t Ship Vaping Products?

Fed-Ex and UPS are following suit after the PACT Act was passed by Congress.

Late in December 2020, Congress gave the go-signal to an appropriations bill called the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act (PACT), which prohibits the US Postal Service (UPS) from shipping both tobacco and cannabis vapor products.

Of course, this is going to affect the vape market big time. The bill does so much more than just banning the shipment of vapes; it actually gives shipping businesses involved in sending out vaping and cannabis products no choice but to comply with the PACT, which has strict regulations for online merchants.

“Effective April 5, 2021, UPS will not transport vaping products to, from or within the United States due to the increased complexity to ship those products,” said UPS spokesperson Matthew O’Connor in a statement.

PACT was actually set in motion last 2010, and it was the same year that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) got control of tobacco products thanks to the Tobacco Control Act (TCA). Unfortunately in 2016, the FDA began regulating vape products such as vape pens, water pipes, pipes, e-cigarettes, and other similar goods. Since then, they all fell under the definition of “tobacco products.”

“Covered tobacco product means any tobacco product deemed to be subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, but excludes any component or part that is not made or derived from tobacco,” says the FDA.

In a nutshell, PACT doesn’t just ban the USPS from shipping smokable goods, but the merchants should also comply with the act requirements no matter how they distribute their goods. We won’t be surprised if this leads to the opposite – people actually reverting back to cigarettes because government policies such as these make it so much harder to purchase safer options, such as vapes.

USA customs seizes $1.5 million shipment of counterfeit ‘Rick and Morty’ vape pens at O’Hare

Customs agents at O’Hare Airport on Tuesday seized a large shipment of counterfeit vape pens worth more than a million dollars.

The shipment, on its way from China to a distribution company in Georgia, contained 258 boxes of vape pens depicting images of the popular cartoon “Rick and Morty,” according to a statement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protections.

The 77,400 pens could’ve been worth $1.55 million, the agency said.

Customs said it reached out to Warner Bros. Entertainment and confirmed the pens were infringing on the company’s copyright.

“Often CBP seizes vape pens because they violate FDA guidelines, but these parcels violate copyright laws which adds to the charges and complexity of the case,” said Shane Campbell, port director of CBP in Chicago.

Campbell said counterfeit products are often unsafe for consumers, damages the revenue and image of the companies and could cost American jobs.

Last week, customs agents at O’Hare seized a shipment of 65,000 counterfeit N-95 masks. The masks claimed to be made by the manufacturer 3M, but the products had spelling errors and were deemed fake. The shipment could’ve been worth over $400,000.

Half of young people in the United States quit e-cigarettes because of their health

According to a new study published in “Addictive Behaviors“, more than 50% of young e-cigarette users want to stop and quit e-cigarettes.

2,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 participated in this study. All of them participated in the newsletter cessation aid program in 2019 and wanted to quit e-cigarettes.

Research surveys have found that young people have a variety of motivations for trying to quit smoking, including health, saving money, personal freedom, social communication, and decline in academic, physical fitness and other areas:

*52% of people want to quit e-cigarettes because of their health. One notable answer is: “I want to restore my lungs.”
*21% of people think cost saving is a factor, such as “I don’t have enough money to continue buying electronic cigarettes.”
*16% of people feel that they have lost their freedom from smoking e-cigarettes and hope to get rid of addiction. One respondent said: “I hate e-cigarettes. It controls my life.”
*10% of people regard social communication as the main factor, such as “influencing my friendship”.
*8% of students want to quit e-cigarettes because of poor grades: “My performance at school was affected by e-cigarettes… I have difficulty concentrating and paying attention.”

Half of young people in the United States quit e-cigarettes because of their healthHalf of young people in the United States quit e-cigarettes because of their healthHalf of young people in the United States quit e-cigarettes because of their health

Half of young people in the United States quit e-cigarettes because of their health

The research results highlight that young smokers believe that e-cigarettes affect their quality of life, so they participate in programs that can help them quit smoking because their addiction prevents them from living the life they want, which in turn affects their friendship and family relationships, physical and mental health and financial status.

Disposable E-Cigarette Sales Take Off in USA

CHICAGO — Customers gave little to no attention to the disposable e-cigarette category before a year ago, said Nik DiMambro, category manager for Nouria Energy Corp.

That’s when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidance banning flavored vapor cartridges took effect. And while flavored disposables have been popular for years for some category managers in convenience stores, many attribute the subcategory’s recent spike to the FDA’s new rule enacted in February 2020.

“We have seen tremendous growth year over year,” DiMambro told CSP in late December. “We’re seeing upwards of 82% growth in disposables.”

Nouria Energy only carried blu disposables, from Greensboro, N.C.-based ITG Brands, until the FDA changed its rules. That prompted the Worcester, Mass.-based chain of about 120 stores to add Jacksonville, Fla.-based E-Alternative Solutions’ (EAS) Leap Go disposable e-cigarette.

Nouria Energy’s spike in disposable sales following the FDA’s move mirrors the national trend.

Disposable e-cigarettes took in more than $453.5 million in dollar sales and 44.4 million in unit sales in c-stores for the last 52-week period ending on Nov. 21, according to Nielsen, Chicago.

This marked tremendous growth from the three years prior.

Unit sales grew 211.8% during the 52 weeks ending on Nov. 21, Nielsen said. That’s compared to 12.3% growth in 2019 and 4.7% growth in 2018.

With the huge demand in the subcategory, c-store retailers must determine which products they’re comfortable carrying, if any, and continue to navigate ongoing regulation.

Disposable E-Cigarette Sales Take Off

‘A loophole’

In January 2020, the FDA announced flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes—excluding tobacco and menthol—must be pulled from shelves by the next month. Those products can come back on the market only if the FDA authorizes them through the premarket tobacco application (PMTA) process.

The FDA’s guidance resulted in a slew of new disposable e-cigarette companies hitting the market and taking advantage of what some call a loophole to fill the gap in flavored vaping products.

“Those products for the most part didn’t exist at retail in any consistent manner a year ago,” said Kraig Knudsen, tobacco category manager at Circle K’s Heartland Division, Lisle, Ill. “It wasn’t until the FDA came out and said, ‘We’re going to ban flavors on refillable systems, but we’re not going to enforce the action against disposables.’ All those companies said, ‘Here’s a loophole. I’m going to just create a disposable, have any kind of flavor I want and sell a boatload of them.’ It’s worked for them.”

The FDA noticed. Beginning in July, it started cracking down on e-cigarette companies, such as Puff Bar, that sell fruity, disposable products that the agency said appeal to youths. Puff Bar has since ceased all sales in the U.S., according to its website.

At the time, the FDA also issued warning letters to 10 other companies that the FDA said appealed to youth and didn’t have the required premarket authorization.

Results from the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, released in September, said that while fewer U.S. youth are using e-cigarettes compared to 2019, there was an “alarming uptick” in the use of disposable e-cigarettes by youth.

Another safeguard to keep flavored disposables out of the hands of youth is through the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, which Congress passed in December and took effect in early 2021. The bill requires that online e-cigarette retailers to verify the age of customers for all purchases, require an adult with ID to be present for delivery, label shipping packages to show they contain tobacco products and comply with all state and local tobacco tax requirements.

“We feel brick-and-mortar is the best place for restricted items, not online,” said Mark Hopkins, owner and president of Little Rock, Ark.-based Max Distributing, which has submitted a PMTA for its MNGO disposable vape sticks made in 10 flavors and varying nicotine levels. “We think [the new law] will only help the safety of the product and keep it out of the wrong people’s hands.”

Disposable E-Cigarette Sales Take Off

‘Adults want flavors’

Chris Howard, vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer at EAS, said he thinks the FDA will continue to act against bad players and provide a pathway to enable flavored products back on the market, but it will take time.

“If that drags on much longer, it’s a problematic situation because of course there’s confusion at retail and, more significantly, the companies that are following the rules are really suffering as a result,” Howard said. “Adults want flavors. We know this, and what are they doing? They’re buying [noncompliant] flavored disposables instead of buying the compliant products, like ours and our competitors.”

Knudsen of Circle K agrees that there are some very good products in the disposable e-cigarette space, but lesser quality products are putting a black eye on the legitimate vapor companies and their products. He also worries about those products that the FDA does not approve. Such an action would put a less-established disposable company out of business, and the retailer would be stuck with the cost of its products.

Knudsen carries NJOY Daily from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based NJOY and blu disposables in the Heartland Division’s stores. He would like to expand his disposable set—if the FDA authorizes a product.

DiMambro of Nouria Energy doesn’t believe the FDA will crack down on disposables until the PMTA process is completed. However, at least twice in January the agency has seized thousands of counterfeit e-cigarettes at airports, including more than 33,000 units resembling the Puff Bar brand at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

“Right now, the concern for the category is the PMTA process,” DiMambro said. “If the FDA starts approving non-disposable items that have flavors, the whole disposable scene could change. We are also concerned that certain brands that have applied will not get approved. When that happens, retailers could be stuck with inventory that they cannot sell.”

As such, manufacturers that have filed PMTAs with the FDA want to assure retailers they can be confident in selling their products.

“I foresee demand for disposable and cartridge-based vape products growing tremendously,” said Andrew Laron, vice president of sales with Ziip Lab, San Francisco-based maker of ZSticks. “More and more individuals will replace traditional cigarettes with vape products.”

John Taylor, chief marketing officer with manufacturer Dinner Lady, said part of what’s driving the trend in disposables is that the devices require no expert education for either retailers are consumers.

Dinner Lady, based in Blackburn, U.K., sells the Vape Pen Max and a Tobacco Free Nicotine Vape Pen in the United States, which come in a variety of nicotine strengths and flavors.

Congress Amends the PACT Act to Apply to All Vaping Products

Background on the PACT Act

As part of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021,” in the most recent COVID-19 relief bill signed into law on December 27, 2020, Congress amended the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (“PACT”) Act to apply to e-cigarettes and all vaping products. Originally passed in 2009, the PACT Act amended the existing Jenkins Act of 1949, which required interstate shippers to report cigarette sales to state tobacco tax administrators in order to combat illicit sales and tax avoidance. When it became law 60 years later – the same year the Tobacco Control Act gave FDA authority over tobacco products – the PACT Act, among other things, prohibited the use of the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”) to deliver cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products directly to consumers.

  • In addition to the non-mailing provisions, the PACT Act requires anyone who sells cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the tobacco tax administrators of the states into which a shipment is made or in which an advertisement or offer is disseminated. Delivery sellers who ship cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to consumers are further required to label packages as containing tobacco, verify the age and identity of the customer at purchase, use a delivery method (other than USPS) that checks ID and obtains adult customer signature at delivery, and maintain records of delivery sales for a period of four years after the date of sale, among other things.
  • The PACT Act also requires sellers to file a monthly report with the state tobacco tax administrator and any other local or tribal entity that taxes the sale of cigarettes. Such reports must include the name and address of the persons delivering and receiving the shipment and the brand and quantity of the “cigarettes” that were shipped. These requirements apply to all sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, including sales to consumers and sales between businesses.
  • The PACT Act mandates that the ATF maintain a non-compliant list of persons who fail to comply with the Act. Placement on the list bars common carriers and other persons from delivering products sold by the listed company. ATF distributes the list to common carriers, USPS, credit card companies, and others to help enforce the list.

PACT Act Amendment: Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act

  • The 2020 PACT Act amendment, the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,” modifies the original definition of “cigarette” in the PACT Act to include Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). The term “ENDS” is defined very broadly to essentially include all vaping products, liquids, components, and accessories, whether they contain nicotine or not. Specifically, an ENDS product is defined as “any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device,” including “an e-cigarette; an e-hookah; an e-cigar; a vape pen; an advanced refillable personal vaporizer; an electronic pipe; and any component, liquid, part, or accessory of a device described [above], without regard to whether the component, liquid, part, or accessory is sold separately from the device.” (Emphasis added.) Based on this definition of ENDS, zero-nicotine e-liquids, synthetic “tobacco-free” nicotine e-cigarettes, and CBD/THC/hemp vape pens, among other things, would all appear to be captured.
  • The PACT Act requirements summarized above apply to ENDS effective 90 days from the date of enactment, or on or about March 28, 2021. Certain requirements (e.g., labeling, weight restrictions, and 21+ age verification on delivery) only apply to direct-to-consumer sales (made through common carriers or private delivery services). The registration and reporting requirements apply to all sales, including business-to-business sales. Companies should plan well in advance of the effective date to ensure they are fully compliant with existing state sales and excise taxes, licenses, and registrations. Currently, 28 states plus various localities impose a tax on vapor products, so sellers should plan accordingly. Sellers should also review their system capabilities to ensure excise taxes are being collected from consumers where required and data is properly being captured for required reporting.

USPS Ban on Consumer Sales; Third-Party Common Carriers Refusing to Deliver Vapor Products

  • As noted, the amended PACT Act now prohibits the use of the USPS to deliver “ENDS” directly to consumers. In terms of the mail ban’s effective date, the Act states that the prohibition on the mailing of cigarettes shall apply to ENDS on and after the date on which the Postal Service promulgates regulations clarifying the applicability of the mail ban on ENDS, which it is required to do within 120 days of the enactment (i.e., by April 27, 2021). The Postal Service has not yet published any clarifying regulations in this regard, but companies should anticipate the mail ban going into effect on or about April 27, 2021.
  • The PACT Act has historically exempted businesses-to-business deliveries from the USPS ban. Specifically, the USPS ban does not extend to tobacco products “mailed only … for business purposes between legally operating businesses that have all applicable State and Federal Government licenses or permits and are engaged in tobacco product manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, export, import, testing, investigation, or research….” See 18 U.S.C. § 1716E(b)(3)(A). Companies seeking to use USPS for business-to-business deliveries must first submit an application to the USPS Pricing and Classification Service Center and comply with several other shipping, labeling, and delivery requirements. The Postal Service’s yet-to-be-published clarifying regulations could address whether business-to-business deliveries will remain permitted for ENDS.
  • Critically for the vapor industry, the most commonly used carriers, Federal Express and United Parcel Service (UPS), have recently announced that they would cease all deliveries of vapor products. According to Vaping360, as of March 1, 2021, FedEx will begin prohibiting “electronic cigarettes, vaping liquids, and other vaping products in the FedEx global network.” A UPS spokesperson also told Vaping360 that, effective April 5, 2021, “UPS will not transport vaping products to, from, or within the United States due to the increased complexity to ship those products.”
  • Without effective delivery options, PACT Act compliance becomes moot. Many vapor businesses are exploring arrangements with private logistics and transportation companies, as well as expensive software solutions to help comply with the PACT Act requirements, but the outlook for many small vapor companies and online retailers looks bleak.

Recreational marijuana sales kick off in Arizona

Recreational marijuana sales have started in Arizona, with many of the state’s medical-marijuana dispensaries getting the OK on Friday to open sales to anyone 21 or older.

A Harvest Health and Recreation dispensary in Scottsdale got approval at about noon. The staff quickly broke out signs showing where recreational customers would check in, separating them from medical customers.

Public sales of marijuana, vape pens and edible products such as gummies and candies follow the passage of Proposition 207 in November, making it legal for adults to possess marijuana.

It is the fastest that any of the 15 states with recreational marijuana has gone from voter approval to actual sales.

The ballot measure also allows Arizona’s 120 or so existing medical dispensaries to apply to the Department of Health Services to sell recreational marijuana to adults.

Soon after Harvest workers at the Scottsdale location got the official approval for recreational sales from the Arizona Department of Health Services, the state department released a list of dozens of dispensary operators that also were approved for recreational sales.

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Medical-marijuana dispensaries that got approved to sell recreational marijuana on Friday include 13 of the 15 Harvest shops in the state, all eight Curaleaf shops, The Mint locations in Guadalupe and Mesa, three Territory Dispensary locations, and dozens of others in places across the state, including in Tucson, Yuma, Flagstaff, Cottonwood and Sedona.

At about 12:15 p.m., a Scottsdale man named Chuck walked into the Harvest dispensary near the Scottsdale Airport and asked if recreational sales were yet allowed. An excited staff told him they were, and after showing his identification and checking in, he perused the shop without a line.

He chose a vape pen with “Tropic Thunder” and “Skunk #1” marijuana strain cartridges, and a pre-rolled “Peanut Butter Breath” joint. After taxes, he paid $121.

“I was just driving by and asking if they were open yet,” he said, not realizing he was among the first people in the state to make a legal, recreational purchase.

Shop workers cheered as his transaction rang through.

An hour later, once word got out, there was a line of about 30 people outside the shop.

Customers discuss what it means to be able to buy marijuana at Harvest dispensary in Scottsdale on the first day of recreational marijuana sales in Arizona.
DAVID WALLACE, ARIZONA REPUBLIC

Meanwhile, dispensaries across the state continued to check their application status with the Health Department and turn their shops over for recreational sales. Many expect long lines over the coming days.

Sara Schuck, 29, of Scottsdale, waited in line at Harvest on Friday afternoon, and said it was exciting to be able to buy marijuana legally.

“We all grew up being told it was a bad thing, and it’s not such a bad thing, so now we all get to experience that,” she said. “It’s a plant at the end of the day, and it’s got a lot of medicinal properties and a lot of good positive things it can do for everyone, and I think it’s a good thing the world is accepting that.”

She said she wasn’t surprised by the line, which by 3:30 p.m. wrapped halfway around the former bank building.

“More people partake in cannabis use than you actually think,” she said.

HOW TO GET IT: Where can I buy recreational marijuana in Arizona?

Mario Bautista, 42, of Mesa, was one of those who waited in line on Friday afternoon to make a legal purchase.

“It feels good,” he said after buying some edibles. “Like I’m not sneaking around and depending on anyone else.”

He previously lived in California and had purchased legally in that state.

“I’m glad we caught up finally,” he said.

Dispensaries paid $25K to add recreational marijuana

Harvest executives filed their application to open for recreational sales in the state early Tuesday morning, the first day medical dispensaries could file such applications, CEO Steve White said.

It cost dispensaries $25,000 to apply to move into recreational sales.

So long as the short applications were complete and the dispensary was in good standing with the state, meaning no outstanding violations of medical-marijuana rules, the applications were expected to receive approval.

White donned a custom yellow suit jacket matching the color of Harvest logos, and held a printed copy of the dispensary’s recreational permit from the state.

“This cost $3 million and six years to get, and I don’t know how many hundreds of hours of work,” he said of the historic moment.

When Harvest got the OK from the state, the dispensary quickly rang through a purchase for White so it could be the first shop in the state to record a transaction under the new law.

The receipt showed $143 worth of various products, including “Grape Dream,” “Purple Portal,” “Amnesia Lemon” and “Princess Haze” strains. White said the company was planning to donate the purchase to someone deserving.

Arizona Department of Health Services spokesman Steve Elliott said Friday that the department had approved 86 applications.

Arizona marijuana sales grew 27% in 2020

Some dispensaries in the state are still waiting to file their applications because they are not yet prepared to offer recreational sales, which are expected to bring substantially more traffic to their stores.

But more savvy operators pounced on the chance to be among the first to tap into the recreational market.

Arizona dispensaries sold about 106 tons of marijuana and marijuana products such as edibles last year while only being allowed to sell to people with a medical-marijuana card. That figure has grown steadily since those sales began in 2012.

The 2020 sales were about a 27% increase over the 83 tons of marijuana and marijuana products sold in 2019.

Arizona has more than 295,000 residents with cards that allow them to purchase medical marijuana. Those patients still can purchase from facilities that offer recreational sales, and they can purchase more than the general public. The possession limit for recreational marijuana is 1 ounce while medical patients can purchase as much as 2.5 ounces every two weeks.

Medical patients also can purchase edible products with higher potency than the 10 milligrams of THC allowed per serving for recreational gummies and other foods. And they avoid a 16% excise tax that is placed on recreational sales.

More job opportunities anticipated

The expanding market should benefit the more than 9,000 people working in Arizona dispensaries.

Employees at dispensaries, called dispensary agents, are registered with the state, and must apply for a new “facility agent” card from the state to work in a shop that sells recreational marijuana.

Tuesday was also the first day employees could apply for their new cards to work in recreational facilities. Employees can work at a recreational facility so long as they have applied for the facility agent card, even if the Health Department hasn’t approved or rejected them yet.

White said Harvest asked hundreds of employees to come in to work 90 minutes early Tuesday to help them file those applications.

More job opportunities at dispensaries are expected because of Proposition 207, not just because of increased demand, but because more dispensaries are on their way.

In addition to seven in the state that are licensed but not yet operating, Proposition 207 also allows for new dispensaries in rural counties with fewer than two operating today, and another 26 shops that will be allowed under a “social equity” program aimed at helping people who have been harmed by historical marijuana prohibitions.

Reach reporter Ryan Randazzo at ryan.randazzo@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4331. Follow him on Twitter @UtilityReporter.

FDA Seizes $720,000 of Counterfeit and Unauthorised Vapes

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in conjunction with the FDA, have recently seized a shipment of over 33,000 counterfeit and unauthorised e-cigarettes while in transit from China to Texas.

Upwards of 40 separate shipments, valued at an estimated $720,000, were found to contain replicas of Puff Bar products – a brand that already received calls to remove its flavoured disposable e-cigarettes from the market.

In a continued effort to ‘intercept counterfeit or other violative e-cigarettes’ that fail to meet consumer protection standards, the FDA and dedicated border protection officers are pooling their resources.

“Many counterfeit, unapproved or unauthorised products are likely produced in unregulated facilities with unverified ingredients posing a serious health concern to consumers.

“It is especially alarming when these types of counterfeit and unauthorised products find their way into the hands of children.

“We will continue to take every opportunity to work with our partners at the FDA to intercept and seize products that threaten US consumers.”


CBP Port Director Timothy Lemaux.

Through strict enforcement of trading standards and a thorough customs process, the CBP seized over 90,000 counterfeit e-cigarettes in 2020 alone.

However, countless more fake and potentially harmful products find their way into the hands of unknowing vapers, an issue of which the FDA is alarmingly aware.

“This seizure makes clear to tobacco product manufacturers, retailers and importers that the FDA is keeping a close watch on the marketplace and will hold accountable those companies that violate tobacco laws and regulations,” said director of the FDA’s Centre for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller J.D.

Judy McMeekin, FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, assured consumers that investigations will continue into finding and removing dangerous products from the marketplace.

She said: “Protecting American consumers from illicit and especially harmful tobacco products, such as counterfeit…e-cigarettes, is of utmost importance to the FDA.”

Vape shop to open in former city centre Greenwoods store

Another vape shop is set to open in the city centre – after the old Greenwoods unit was snapped up.

A sign in the window of the Hanley shop reveals E-Cig International is ‘coming soon’. Any immediate plans have been put on hold due to the second national lockdown which is due to finish on December 2.

It comes almost two years after Greenwoods closed its Stafford Street store following the retailer’s collapse into administration.

Now shoppers are concerned that vape shops are taking over Hanley.

Kev Warrilow, aged 42, of Bentilee, said: “Quite a few of these shops are opening – they seem to be all over the place.

“There are five places on Stafford Street where you can get them. There’s too many.”

The former Greenwoods unit forms part of the Moxon Island building which is now under new ownership. It is one of two empty units.

Big names and local independent operators currently operating within Moxon Island include The Works, Specsavers, Forbidden Planet, Schuropody, Central Store Newsagents, Rowfers and the PDSA charity shop.