As part of its efforts to prevent underage youth from using e-cigarette products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered four manufacturers to stop sales of over 40 different flavored vape liquids. The agency cites violations of regulations that were instituted in 2016, although enforcement has been delayed until 2021. Last month, however, a federal court ordered the FDA to impose a 10-month deadline in which vape manufacturers must submit new products for approval. The companies in question have allegedly failed to obtain authorization for their products.

Failure to comply with new rules aside, flavored vape liquids are of particular concern for health professionals, state and local governments and others who accuse vape companies of targeting youth in their marketing and creating a new generation of people who will be addicted to their products. Fruity flavors such as “Majestic Mango,” “Pom Berry” and “Raspberry Lemonade” are especially attractive to young people, say e-cigarette opponents.

Their concerns are valid. The flavoring agents used in vape liquids contain a number of chemicals that by themselves, are harmless. However, in combination and subjected to heat, many of these ingredients undergo changes that can cause them to become toxic, and even carcinogenic. In May of 2019, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that flavoring agents used in vape liquids can cause severe damage to the endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic ducts. The damage, which can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, was noted even when nicotine was not present.

Despite growing awareness of the health risks of vaping, the practice continues to grow in popularity, especially among teens and young adults. Current acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless noted this problem when he said, “The marketing of illegal tobacco products is particularly concerning given the epidemic of youth vaping that we’re facing.” He added, “Today’s actions make clear that we will continue to keep a close watch on whether companies are breaking the law and will take swift steps when violations are found.”

The order, issued in a warning letter dated August 8th, applies to:

  • Hookah Imports, Inc.
  • Liquid Labs, LLC
  • Mighty Vapors, LLC
  • V8P Juice International, LLC

These companies have 15 business days in which to respond and inform the FDA as to how they plan to comply.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.