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FDA Seizes E-Cigarettes Worth $18 million at LAX

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has sent a strong message to importers of unauthorized vapes with the seizure of more than $18 million worth of ‘contraband’ from Los Angeles International Airport this week. 

Following months of work reviewing shipping invoices the FDA, working jointly with Customs & Border Protection, identified multiple shipments from China and elsewhere thought to contain illicit disposable vapes. Upon inspection of the shipments at LAX during a three-day operation, thousands of Elf Bar, EB Designs, Lost Mary, RELX, and Funky Republic vapes, among others, were found and confiscated. 

In its announcement concerning the raid, the FDA stated that, in an attempt to skirt the law, import duty, or detection, most of the 41 intercepted shipments were mislabeled as toys, shoes, or other legal items. 

FDA commissioner Robert M. Califf said, “The FDA is committed to continuing to stem the flow of illegal e-cigarettes into the United States.” Going on to add that “Unscrupulous companies try everything they can to bring unauthorized, youth-appealing tobacco products into the country. The FDA will remain vigilant, and together with our federal partners, stop these imports before they make it into the hands of our nation’s youth.

According to the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey findings, released in November, flavored disposable vapes were the most common type of vape used by American teens. In particular, Elf Bar and associated products were singled out as the most popular brand among young e-cigarette users. 

In addition to stepping up action of this type, the FDA can and will place certain companies on an import red alert list in their attempt to put a stop to the unauthorized sale of electronic nicotine products. 

Those shamelessly attempting to smuggle illegal e-cigarettes, particularly those that appeal to youth, into this country should take heed,” said Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “Federal agencies are on to their antics and will not hesitate to take action. The significant value of these seized products is also a sobering reminder to these bad actors that their time and money would be better spent complying with the law.

Any seized disposables found to be unauthorized, likely to be all of them, will be forfeited to the government and then disposed of as appropriate and in accordance with the law. 

Russ Ware Author Picture 2

Russ Ware

Russ is a UK-based Staff Writer for Versed Vaper who has been in journalism for more than two decades, having previously written for tech publications like Lifewire. He tried vaping in 2015 but the setup that he was using wasn’t quite right and so he didn’t enjoy it at first. However, after going back and forth between vaping and smoking for a couple of years, he started experimenting with different coils, power levels, and mixing his own vape juice. The rest is history and Russ has been a devoted vaper ever since. Russ is a passionate writer and he produces reviews, news, and well-researched informational articles for our site. When Russ is not testing or writing about vapes, he likes to travel, read true crime, and eat anything with lots of chilies.

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