DOJ and FDA Announce Task Force to Combat Illegal E-Cigarette Sales


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today the creation of a federal multi-agency task force aimed at curbing the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarettes.

The task force will include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), among others, to streamline efforts against the illegal e-cigarette market, which contributes significantly to nicotine addiction among American youth.

“Unauthorized e-cigarettes and vaping products continue to jeopardize the health of Americans – particularly children and adolescents – across the country,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer. “This interagency Task Force is dedicated to protecting Americans by combating the unlawful sale and distribution of these products.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of DOJ’s Civil Division, emphasized the importance of enforcing laws preventing the sale and distribution of unlawful e-cigarettes. “We will work closely with our Task Force partners to address this crisis with all of the enforcement tools available to us,” Boynton said.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Arun G. Rao highlighted the priority of curbing the widespread availability of illegal Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) products. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we look forward to advancing aggressive and innovative solutions to this evolving problem,” Rao stated.

Dr. Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, noted the necessity of a comprehensive response. “This ‘All Government’ approach will bring the collective resources and experience of the federal government to bear on this pressing public health issue,” King said.

According to the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey, approximately 2.1 million youths reported currently using e-cigarettes, a decline from 5.3 million in 2019. However, significant usage persists among high school and middle school students, with over 25% of e-cigarette users reporting daily use. Many products are marketed to appeal directly to school-age users, including candy and fruit flavors.

To date, the FDA has issued over 1,100 warning letters and has filed civil money penalty complaints against numerous manufacturers and retailers for selling unauthorized products. The FDA and DOJ have also obtained injunctions against several manufacturers to cease production and sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes.

The task force will investigate and prosecute actions under the PACT Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, among other authorities. Violations of these statutes can result in felony convictions, significant fines, and seizures of unauthorized products.

“The U.S. Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Division stands ready to work with our Task Force partners in the seizure of unauthorized e-cigarettes,” said Ronald L. Davis, director of the U.S. Marshals Service.

ATF Director Steven M. Dettelbach and Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale also pledged support for the task force's mission, emphasizing the importance of enforcing the PACT Act to prevent unlawful sales to minors.

FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel A.A. Levine added, “We look forward to sharing our experience with this rapidly changing, multi-billion dollar market through this important Task Force.”

For more information on e-cigarette regulation and enforcement efforts, visit the FDA’s website at FDA Tobacco Products and the ATF’s website at ATF Vapes and E-Cigarettes.

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