- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has issued complaints for civil money penalties (CMPs) against 22 retailers for illegally selling disposable vape brand EB Design, also known as Elf Bar, according to a Thursday announcement.
- The retailers targeted by FDA fines include several convenience store operators, such as multiple Marathon- and BP-owned locations in Florida, as well as individual Citgo, Shell and Exxon stations. The FDA is seeking the maximum CMP of over $19,000 per retailer.
- This comes a few months after the FDA warned nearly 200 retailers — including 7-Eleven, BP, Shell and others — to stop selling Elf Bar in its stores.
Back in June, these 22 retailers were among the 189 that the FDA warned for illegally selling Elf Bar and Esco Bar, another brand of vape product. The FDA sent out those warnings after discovering the unauthorized brands on retail shelves as part of its ongoing market inspection process, and as research reinforced e-cigarettes’ appeal with young consumers.
After conducting follow-up inspections, the FDA learned that these 22 retailers had not corrected their violations, resulting in the CMPs. This marks the first time the FDA is seeking CMPs for the maximum amount against retailers for this type of violation, according to the announcement.
Each retailer has 30 days to pay the penalty, enter into a settlement agreement, request an extension to file an answer to the FDA’s complaint or request a hearing.
“The FDA has been abundantly clear that we are committed to using the full scope of our authorities, as appropriate, to hold those who break the law accountable,” said Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, in the announcement. “These retailers were duly warned of what could happen if they failed to correct their violations. They chose inaction and will now face the consequences.”
Beyond the FDA’s financial penalties, the administration has issued an additional 168 warning letters to retailers for selling EB Design products, according to the announcement. As with its previous warnings, these retailers must stop selling these products or will face CMPs, the FDA said.
As of September 2023, the FDA has issued over 400 warning letters to retailers for selling unauthorized tobacco products, as well as more than 600 warning letters to firms for manufacturing and/or distributing illegal tobacco products.