Companies cease sales of e-liquids with labeling or advertising that resembled kid-friendly foods following FDA, FTC warnings
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that all 17 manufacturers, distributors and retailers that were warned by the agency in May, have stopped selling the nicotine-containing e-liquids used in e-cigarettes with labeling or advertising resembling kid-friendly food products, such as juice boxes, candy or cookies that were identified through warning letters as being false or misleading. The warning letters – many in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission – are part of ongoing efforts to protect youth from the dangers of nicotine and tobacco products. Several of the companies that received warning letters had also been cited for illegally selling the products to minors.
“Removing these products from the market was a critical step toward protecting our kids. We can all agree no kid should ever start using any tobacco or nicotine-containing product, and companies that sell them have a responsibility to ensure they aren’t enticing youth use. When companies market these products using imagery that misleads a child into thinking they’re things they’ve consumed before, like a juice box or candy, that can create an imminent risk of harm to a child who may confuse the product for something safe and familiar,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Even as we encourage the innovation of novel and potentially less harmful products such as e-cigarettes for currently addicted adult smokers, we’re committed to holding industry accountable to ensure these products aren’t being marketed to, sold to, or used by kids. The FDA will continue to take vigorous actions under our Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to restrict youth access, limit youth appeal, and reduce toxic exposure to youth from all tobacco products, and, in particular, e-cigarettes. We expect to take additional, robust enforcement actions over the next few months that target those who we believe are allowing these products to get into the hands of children.”
Some examples of the products outlined in the warning letters included: “One Mad Hit Juice Box,” which resembled children’s apple juice boxes, such as Tree Top-brand juice boxes; “Whip’d Strawberry,” which resembled Reddi-wip dairy whipped topping; “Twirly Pop,” which not only resembled a Unicorn Pop lollipop but was shipped with one; and “Unicorn Cakes,” which included images and cartoons of pancakes, a strawberry beverage and unicorns eating pancakes, similar to graphics and images from the “My Little Pony” television and toy franchise.
Following the warning letters in May, the FDA worked to ensure the companies took appropriate corrective action – such as no longer selling the products with the misleading labeling or advertising – and issued close-out letters to the firms. The agency expects some of the companies may sell the products with revised labeling that addresses the concerns expressed in the warning letters. The FDA will continue to monitor tobacco product labeling and advertising for potential violations of the law and act as appropriate.