Puff Bar, other e-cigarette makers to face more scrutiny under spending bill

The Food and Drug Administration will gain authority over Puff Bar and other e-cigarettes made with synthetic nicotine as part of the government spending bill expected to be signed by President Biden.

The bill closes a loophole that has allowed Puff Bar to stay in the market and gain popularity with teens, despite the FDA’s order to stop selling its disposable fruity vaporizers. After the agency’s order in 2020, Puff Bar reformulated its products to use nicotine that was not derived from tobacco. The FDA regulates tobacco products and smoking cessation devices such as nicotine gum, but synthetic nicotine vaporizers have not been under its jurisdiction until now.

An FDA spokeswoman declined to comment.

Lawmakers and public health groups have escalated calls to close the loophole after a federal survey released in September showed Puff Bar had become the most popular e-cigarette brand among middle and high school students. Under the bill, the company has 60 days to submit its products for FDA review or stop sales.

Puff Bar did not respond to a request for comment. Its co-chief executive, Patrick Beltran, previously told the Wall Street Journal that Puff Bar would comply with any new regulations banning its products.

“We will never break the law, or if there was a regulation that came out tomorrow saying there would be no synthetic nicotine, no flavors on the market tomorrow, we would comply,” he said. he said in an interview in November.

Due to federal restrictions on flavored e-cigarettes, reusable devices made by companies like Juul Labs Inc. are only available in tobacco and menthol flavors. Puff Bar sells a wider selection of flavors, including watermelon, lemon ice cream, and Blue Razz. They are sold online and in stores for as little as $9 each.

Several other e-cigarette companies switched to synthetic nicotine last year after the FDA ordered them to halt sales of their products as part of an extensive regulatory review of the vaping industry. The agency’s mandate is to authorize vaping products only if their manufacturers can demonstrate that they are in the interest of public health. The FDA weighs, among other things, the potential good of adult cigarette smokers switching to a less harmful option against the potential harm of young people becoming addicted to nicotine.

Among its decisions to date, the FDA has removed more than 900,000 flavored products from the market, including vaping liquids in flavors such as apple crumble, cola, and cinnamon-roasted cereal.

One company that switched to synthetic nicotine was Breeze Smoke LLC, which unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of the FDA decision. On his website he now sells disposable vaporizers with “tobacco-free nicotine”.

Breeze Smoke declined to comment.

Nicotine alone has not been linked to cancer, but it hooks people to cigarettes, which are linked to 480,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to US health officials. The health effects of synthetic nicotine have not been widely studied. Some scientists and industry experts are concerned that consumers may perceive it to be less harmful than tobacco-derived nicotine.

“Some bad actors have tried to avoid FDA regulation by switching to using synthetic nicotine in their products,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D., NJ), in a press release. “It ends with the passage of this bill, which will close that gap and clarify the authority of the FDA to regulate all tobacco products, including those containing synthetic nicotine.”

Write to Jennifer Maloney at [email protected]

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