Federal Authorities Crack Down on Vaping Industry for Items Resembling Juice Boxes and Candy

Posted May 1, 2018 11:32 a.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2018 11:36 a.m. EDT

Federal authorities said Tuesday they were issuing 13 warning letters to companies that sell liquid nicotine and electronic cigarettes in packaging designed to attract children, including ones that resemble juice boxes and others that look like candy.

The joint action by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission is the latest step by the federal government to crack down on the industry, particularly on devices that are popular with teenagers. Last month, the FDA said it had started an undercover sting operation targeting retailers that sell the popular Juul products to minors and had asked Juul Labs to turn over documents related to its marketing practices.

The action Tuesday, against a group of manufacturers, distributors and retailers, focused on products that the agencies said appeared to be aimed toward underage users. The products, which were being sold through multiple online retailers, have names like “One Mad Hit Juice Box,” sold by NEwhere Inc., and “Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce,” sold by Lifted Liquids, which look like Warheads candy. One product, the “Twirly Pop,” sold by Omnia E-Liquid, also came with a real lollipop, federal officials said.

Nick Warrender, owner of Lifted Liquids, said he removed the “Vape Heads” product from his inventory and redesigned the packaging about six months ago, he said, to address officials’ concerns over marketing such products. “It was something we already saw as a problem,” he said.

He also said that the products were never marketed to children, but were designed to appeal to adults’ nostalgia.

Other companies could not be reached immediately for comment.

“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,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, said in a statement.