- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters to 189 retailers for selling unauthorized disposable vape brands Elf Bar and Esco Bar, according to a Thursday announcement.
- Among the retailers being warned include 7-Eleven, BP, Shell, Chevron, Phillips 66 and numerous independent and smaller scale convenience retailers, according to the FDA’s warning list.
- The FDA took action after discovering the unauthorized brands on retail shelves as part of its ongoing market inspection process, and as recent research has reinforced e-cigarettes’ appeal with young consumers.
In addition to its ongoing monitoring of retail e-cigarette sales, the FDA said research that underscores the popularity of the Elf Bar and Esco Bar brands as well as the potential dangers they pose helped drive its latest flurry of retailer warnings.
According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research cited in Thursday’s announcement, Elf Bar was the most popular disposable e-cigarette sold in the U.S. in December 2022, as well as the top disposable e-cigarette brand used among persons aged 16 to 19 in the U.S. in August 2022.
The FDA also cited CDC research that found that in the thousands of e-cigarette exposure cases reported to U.S. poison centers in the past year, Elf Bar was cited more than all other brands combined, with most occurring among children younger than 5 years old.
Both Elf Bar and Esco Bar come in flavors known to appeal to youth, including bubblegum and cotton candy, according to the FDA.
“All players in the supply chain—including retailers—have a role in keeping illegal e-cigarettes off the shelves,” said Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “This latest blitz should be a wake-up call for retailers of Elf Bar and Esco Bars products nationwide. If they’re waiting for a personal invitation to comply with the law, they might just get it in the form of a warning letter or other action from the FDA.”
This comes a little over a month after the FDA placed a number of disposable e-cigarette products, including Elf Bar and Esco Bar, on an import red list. This allows the FDA to detain such products when they’re being brought into the country.
As of mid June, the FDA has issued more than 570 warning letters to companies for manufacturing, selling and/or distributing illegal tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and filed civil money penalty complaints against 12 e-cigarette manufacturers.