The FDA is cracking down on vape juice labels, which could be mistaken for food or candy.
The government department sent 13 warning letters last week to manufacturers, distributors and retailers who are packaging or advertising their vape juice as kid-friendly food products.
The e-juice labels under fire were found to be nearly identical to recognizable edible items found in retail stores including juice boxes, candy and cookies.
The FDA’s crackdown is just one of many measures which the vaping industry is currently seeing almost weekly.
The action comes less than a week after the FDA announced it sent a formal request to JUUL Labs requesting information on its popular e-cigarette brand, including documents relating to its product marketing.
The vape manufacturers who have now been hit with warning letters have been singled out for safety concerns, since the products look like food or drinks commonly consumed by children.
The FDA said in a statement: “As part of on-going efforts to protect youth from the dangers of nicotine and tobacco products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued 13 warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for selling e-liquids used in e-cigarettes with labeling and/or advertising that cause them to resemble kid-friendly food products, such as juice boxes, candy or cookies, some of them with cartoon-like imagery.”
The joint effort by the FDA and Federal Trade Commission – the agency responsible for regulating unfair or deceptive trade practices – has targeted some of the most extreme examples of “egregious” marketing practices in the e-liquid industry, with labels clearly attempting to imitate actual food products.
Despite the warning, the FDA and FTC are not charging the companies with intellectual property (IP) violations for mimicking the well-known products since that is the responsibility of the IP owners themselves.
Some examples of the products outlined in the warning letters and being sold through multiple online retailers include: “One Mad Hit Juice Box,” which resembles children’s apple juice boxes, such as Tree Top-brand juice boxes; “Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce,” which resembles War Heads candy; and “V’Nilla Cookies & Milk,” which resembles Nilla Wafer and Golden Oreo cookies. Other products include “Whip’d Strawberry,” which resembles Reddi-wip dairy whipped topping and “Twirly Pop” which not only resembles a Unicorn Pop lollipop but is shipped with one.
“No child should be using any tobacco product and no tobacco products should be marketed in a way that endangers kids – especially by using imagery that misleads them into thinking the products are things they’d eat or drink,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
“Looking at these side-to-side comparisons is alarming. It is easy to see how a child could confuse these e-liquid products for something they believe they’ve consumed before – like a juice box.”
“Companies selling these products have a responsibility to ensure they aren’t putting children in harm’s way or enticing youth use and we’ll continue to take action against those who sell tobacco products to youth and market products in this egregious fashion,” he added.
“While we continue to encourage the development of potentially less harmful forms of nicotine delivery for currently addicted adult smokers, we will not allow that work to come at the expense of our children.”
The FDA and the FTC have requested responses from each of the companies within 15 working days. The companies are directed to inform each agency of the specific actions taken to address each agency’s concerns. The warning letters also state that failure to correct violations may result in further action such as seizure or injunction.
The manufacturers that received warning letters were:
• NEwhere Inc./Mad Hatter Juice – One Mad Hit Juice Box
• Drip More LLC – Candy King Batch and Candy King Sour Worms
• Candy Co E-Liquids – Patches by Candy Co.
• 7 Daze, LLC – Pink Sticks
• Tinted Brew, Inc – V’Nilla Cookies & Milk
• Next Day Vapor Products (owned by Cosmic Fog Vapors LLC) – Whip’d Strawberry
• Omnia E-Liquid – Twirly Pop
• Warrender Enterprise Inc./Lifted Liquids and E-Liquid Retail – Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce
The agencies also sent warning letters to retailers and distributors that sell the products in question, all of whom were also cited for selling to minors. Those companies were:
• On Cloud Vape
• Sugoi Vapor
• Fog It Up
• Elite Vaporworks
• Ultimate Vape Deals
Omnia E-Liquid, in addition to manufacturing one of the products in question, was also cited for selling to a minor.