The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants consumers to know certain “wellness” vaping products containing vitamins and/or essential oils are being illegally sold with unproven claims and could be harmful if used. Currently, no vaping products are approved by the FDA to prevent or treat any health conditions or diseases.
Some vaping products are being illegally offered for sale with unproven health or wellness claims, including improving mental clarity or treating tumors or asthma. Some examples of these companies’ fraudulent product claims are:
- “Fight off tumors and alleviate symptoms of chemotherapy!”
- “It's been used as a [sic] organic asthma remedy, ADHD remedy, and dementia treatment.”
- “Helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.”
- “Neroli oil… has long been used as a treatment against anxiety and depression, to calm the mind and soothe away tension.”
These claims are unproven, and the products may be ineffective, a waste of money, unsafe, and may prevent or delay you from seeking an appropriate diagnosis and treatment from a health care professional.
Risks from inhaled products
In addition to unproven health claims, these vaping products may present other risks. Inhaled products can be dangerous and even may trigger severe coughing, cause airway tightening, and make speaking and breathing difficult. Also, there’s no way to know if these “wellness” vaping products contain ingredients or impurities that may cause or make these symptoms worse, or cause permanent damage, such as bronchiolitis obliterans (also called popcorn lung).
Vaping safety is not assured, and if you have certain underlying medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, or lung conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a lung infection, you may be at greater risk for experiencing serious complications.
Additionally, private and government studies found some vaping products contain carcinogens, petroleum distillates, diacetyl, toxic heavy metals, herbicides and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze. These chemicals are dangerous for both adolescents and adults and can be easily hidden in the "proprietary blends” as listed on the label.
Don’t be misled by vaping products claiming to contain “vitamins” and other “natural” ingredients or being advertised for “wellness” purposes. The terms “wellness” and "natural" on labels are not well-defined and are sometimes used to imply unproven benefits or safety. Just because a product claims to be natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe or free from hidden ingredients.
These businesses prey on consumers by marketing their products as treating a range of illnesses or conditions and label their products as:
- dietary supplements, vitamins, all-natural, foods
- inhalers, infusers, diffusers, vaporizers
- wellness vapes or aroma therapies
The FDA has received complaints about these products being advertised and sold to minors. Online advertising, especially social media posts, often make false claims and cite the latest “scientific study,” or do not include important details that may apply to you or allow you to make an informed decision. Other red flags include claims like “miracle cure” or “guaranteed results.” Remember, if a company really made a breakthrough, revolutionary health-related discovery, the news, researchers, and the government would discuss it in depth. You can read more about identifying when an advertiser is marketing a potentially fraudulent product in the FDA’s 6 Tip-offs to Rip-offs: Don't Fall for Health Fraud Scams.
What is the FDA doing?
The FDA issued warning letters to companies for illegally selling these vaping products with unproven health claims. The letters provide the companies notice and request that they take prompt action to address any violations of the law. If companies refuse to comply, the FDA may take enforcement actions to prevent the products from reaching consumers.
The FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are continuing to monitor and research vaping-associated lung injury.
What should a consumer do?
The FDA encourages consumers to ask questions.
- Do the claims seem too good to be true or seem like a quick fix?
- Don’t fall for a modern-day “snake oil” treatment. One red flag is claims supported by personal testimonies instead of published research or independent medical professionals’ recommendations.
- Talk to your health care professional if you are considering using a vaping product, especially one sold as a “wellness vape” or that makes claims to treat medical conditions.
- The product may not have the effect the company claims and may have potentially serious interactions with other medications or treatments.
- Even if they are “all natural,” some common ingredients can have strong, life-threatening biological effects, especially if you take prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or dietary supplements.
- Look for current safety alerts, recalls and product warnings.
- Check government and consumer protection groups for news and safety alerts about vaping products.
Consumers and health care professionals should report adverse events or side effects related to the use of vaping products to the FDA.
- If you think a vaping product may have caused you or someone you know to have a serious reaction or illness, immediately stop using the product and contact your health care professional.
- You can report the serious adverse event or illness online or by calling the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088, or by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.
- Adverse events can also be reported to the product's manufacturer or distributor through the address or phone number listed on the product's label.
If you know of a vaping product being sold as a dietary supplement, or claiming to cure, treat, mitigate, or alleviate the symptoms of, or prevent health conditions and diseases, you can notify the FDA by going to our Reporting Unlawful Sales of Medical Products on the Internet page.
For a general, nonserious complaint or concern about, contact your state FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.