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FDA, DOJ Seize Over $700,000 Worth of Unauthorized E-Cigarettes

Joint Operation Removes Over 45,000 Unauthorized E-Cigarettes from the U.S. Supply Chain

April 30, 2024

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), announced that the U.S. Marshals Service seized unauthorized e-cigarette products valued at more than $700,000. The e-cigarettes were located in a warehouse in Alhambra, CA, and are believed to be owned by several California-based distributors. The seized products were mostly flavored, disposable e-cigarette products, including youth-appealing brands such as Puff Bar/Puff, Elf Bar/EB Design, Esco Bar, Kuz, Smok, and Pixi.

“FDA has been unequivocally clear that we are committed to using the full scope of our enforcement tools—including seizures—to hold those who peddle unauthorized e-cigarettes accountable,” said Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “The writing is on the wall for those in the tobacco product supply chain who fail to heed the law.”

This action represents the first time FDA and DOJ have seized tobacco products in coordination with the U.S. Marshals Service. In total, the joint effort resulted in the seizure of more than 45,000 unauthorized e-cigarettes estimated to be worth approximately $703,000.

The seizure initially targeted products being held and sold by MDM Group, a distributor doing business as Eliquidstop.com. FDA issued a warning letter to MDM Group in May 2023, for offering unauthorized, flavored e-cigarette products for sale or distribution. In January 2024, FDA conducted a follow-up inspection of the firm and determined that it continued to commercially market its illegal products. While conducting the seizure at MDM’s facility, the agencies were informed that several firms may have an ownership interest in the unauthorized e-cigarettes seized.

FDA has the authority to initiate seizures of unauthorized tobacco products held by manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers, and FDA continues to take action against those in the supply chain who violate the law. In this instance, as part of an ongoing collaboration among federal partners to address unauthorized e-cigarettes in the United States, the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles on April 5 filed a civil forfeiture complaint on behalf of FDA in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging that the seized products violate Federal law.

“Removing unauthorized tobacco products from the supply chain is one of many enforcement tools we can use,” said Jill Atencio, J.D., acting director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “FDA will continue to take appropriate action across the entire supply chain against unauthorized tobacco products and against those manufacturing, distributing, importing, or selling unauthorized e-cigarette products – especially those most appealing to youth.”

As of April 2024, FDA has issued approximately 670 warning letters to firms for manufacturing and/or distributing illegal e-cigarette products and issued more than 550 warning letters to retailers for the sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes. The agency has also filed civil money penalty complaints against more than 50 e-cigarette manufacturers and more than 100 retailers for manufacture and/or sale of unauthorized new tobacco products, as well as complaints for permanent injunction against seven e-cigarette manufacturers.

To date, FDA has granted marketing authorization to 23 tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products and devices that may be lawfully sold in the United States. Further information on tobacco products that may be legally marketed in the United States is available in FDA’s new Searchable Tobacco Products Database.

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