Source: New York Times
In a joint action by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, warning letters were issued to companies that sell vaping products like liquid nicotine in packaging that may appeal to children, including products that resemble juice boxes and candy.
The action focused on products that the agencies said were aimed at underage users or could be accidentally ingested by children. The products, sold through multiple online retailers, have names like One Mad Hit Juice Box, sold by NEwhere Inc., and Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce, sold by Lifted Liquids, which look like Warheads candy. One product, the Twirly Pop, sold by Omnia E-Liquid, also came with a real lollipop. According to F.D.A. commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb:
“The images are alarming, and it’s easy to see how a child could confuse these e-liquid products for something they believe they’ve consumed before.”
There is no evidence the products under scrutiny caused any child deaths. But nevertheless, “it takes a very small amount of these e-liquids, in some cases less than half a teaspoon, to be at the low end of what could be a fatal effect for a kid, and even less than that to make them very, very sick,” said Mitch Zeller, the director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Tobacco Products.
Some of the products even smelled like the food they were imitating, said Maureen K. Ohlhausen, the acting chairwoman of the F.T.C. The apple juice product came in a cardboard box, with the corners sealed and folded over just like the shelf-stable boxes sold in supermarkets, according to the warning letter. It also smelled like apple juice, even without opening the package.
“These companies are marketing their e-liquids in a manner that the product particularly appealing to young children,” Ohlhausen says.
Nick Warrender, the owner of Lifted Liquids, said he removed the Vape Heads product from his inventory and redesigned the packaging about six months ago to address concerns. He said that the products were never marketed to children, but were designed to appeal to adults’ nostalgia. The products are sold in childproof packaging and that any online sales go through a rigorous vetting system.
Dr. Gottlieb says that while there is value in encouraging the development of alternatives that could lure smokers away from harmful cigarettes, public health officials needed to be vigilant about not addicting a new generation of young people to vaping products.