FDA and CBP Seize Over 1.4 Million Units of Unauthorized E-Cigarettes in Joint Operation

Elf BarImage via Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a joint operation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has announced the recent seizure of approximately 1.4 million units of unauthorized e-cigarette products. The seized products included brands such as Elf Bar, which is the most commonly used brand among youth e-cigarette users, according to the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The estimated retail value of the seized items exceeds $18 million.

The seizures occurred last week during a three-day operation that resulted in the interception of 41 shipments containing illegal e-cigarettes. The operation was conducted at a cargo examination site at Los Angeles International Airport. Here, the team inspected incoming shipments for potentially violative items. Prior to the operation, the team spent months reviewing shipping invoices, identifying potentially violative incoming shipments, and completing other investigative work.

FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., reinforced the agency’s commitment to halting the flow of illegal e-cigarettes into the United States. He condemned companies that persist in introducing unauthorized, youth-appealing tobacco products into the country. Califf vowed that the FDA, along with federal partners, would remain vigilant in preventing these imports from reaching the nation’s youth.

Once forfeited to the government, the seized merchandise will be disposed of in accordance with the law. In the case of unauthorized new tobacco products, they will generally be destroyed.

Troy A. Miller, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner for CBP, underscored the importance of this enforcement action. He emphasized CBP’s commitment to safeguarding communities by disrupting the importation of illegal goods into the country. Miller noted the rise in illicit e-commerce necessitates increased vigilance in intercepting shipments posing serious health risks, particularly to youth, and in disrupting the supply chains bringing them to U.S. borders.

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Upon examining the shipments, all originating from China, the team discovered various brands of illegal flavored disposable e-cigarette products. Recent data from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey indicates that disposable e-cigarettes are the most commonly used type among U.S. youth. Nearly nine out of 10 current e-cigarette users (89.4%) use flavored e-cigarettes, with fruit flavors being the most popular.

In addition to Elf Bar, seized e-cigarettes included brands like EB Create, Lost Mary, Funky Republic, RELX Pod, and IPLAY Max. To evade duties and detection, many of these unauthorized e-cigarettes were intentionally mis-declared as various items, such as toys or shoes, and listed with incorrect values.

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