Creation of a law enforcement unit to combat illegal e-cigarettes

A multi-agency coalition of law enforcement officials will begin cracking down on the unruly market for illegal e-cigarettes, as anti-tobacco groups, lawmakers and the tobacco industry urge federal authorities to to put an end to the flood of vaping devices favored by teenagers.

The Justice Department announced the new effort, which is expected to target fruit- and candy-flavored vapes containing high levels of addictive nicotine.

The new coalition would include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the United States Marshals Service; the Federal Trade Commission and the US Postal Service, exploiting federal laws that could include significant fines and prison sentences. “Unauthorized e-cigarettes and vaping products continue to endanger the health of Americans – especially children and adolescents – across the country,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer.

So far, enforcement efforts have largely consisted of warning letters and limited sanctions issued by the Food and Drug Administration to various sellers like gas station and convenience store owners, ordering them to stop selling these articles.

These FDA initiatives have been criticized as unsuccessful by lawmakers in Congress and others, who have pushed the agency to do more to prevent illegal e-cigarettes from entering the United States.

Traditional tobacco companies, including Reynolds American, have also asked the FDA, which regulates tobacco, to ban illicit products that compete with their own e-cigarettes. Their call for enforcement of flavored vape rules, however, ended at the U.S. border. British American Tobacco, Reynolds’ parent company, said he was marketing It is Vuse Go vapes in flavors like Mango Ice and Blue Raspberry in 46 countries.

Rates of vaping among teens have fallen from record levels reported in national surveys of teens about five years ago. But public health experts remain concerned about the dangers of nicotine addiction on adolescent brains, with many illicit products containing unknown levels and undisclosed chemicals.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and majority whip, is holding a Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday to focus on combating youth vaping and improving law enforcement. Top officials from the Department of Justice and the FDA have been invited to testify.

“I am pleased that my calls for greater enforcement against unauthorized e-cigarettes have been heard and that more resources are on the way to deal with the flood of illegal products entering the market,” Mr. Durbin said Monday in a statement. “I hope this will bring significant change: the health of our children depends on it. »

Public health groups also welcomed the new effort.

“Law enforcement needs to be there to remove the products from the market, and that needs to happen immediately,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of advocacy at the American Lung Association. “There is a reason these products are not legal to sell in the United States, and…

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