The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking court orders, threatening lawsuits and demanding the destruction of unauthorized vapor products, according to Alex Norcia, writing for Filter. The actions are remarkable given Center for Tobacco Products Director Brian King’s reluctance to say whether the agency was willing to take unauthorized vaping products off the market during a recent interview with Politico.
Filter says it has confirmed that the Food and Drug Administration, by Sept. 1, advised the Department of Justice (DOJ) that at least two open system vape companies were in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the manufacturers did not file premarket tobacco product applications and were continuing to sell their products.
“We plan to seek a court order to permanently enjoin you … from, among other things, directly or indirectly manufacturing, distributing, selling and/or offering for sale any new tobacco product at or from any of your facilities, unless and until, among other things, the product receives, and has in effect, marketing authorization from FDA,” reads one letter, signed by DOJ Senior Litigation Counsel Christina Parascandola and seen by Filter.
The two companies known to have received letters have been ordered to physically destroy their own products under FDA supervision.
One industry insider told Filter that the letter was “a clear escalation”—the first time, to his knowledge, that the FDA had gone beyond warnings and explicitly threatened to sue over sales of unauthorized nicotine vapes.
“It is just beyond outrageous that the FDA is now conscripting the Department of Justice in its misbegotten war on vaping,” Amanda Wheeler, a vape shop owner in Arizona and the president of American Vapor Manufacturers, told Filter. “We are talking about hardworking small businesses that are helping ordinary Americans to quit smoking, and they are now facing jaw-dropping threats from federal law enforcement agents.”