WASHINGTON D.C.: Despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 2016 crackdown on fruity, sweet-flavored e-cigarettes that can cause teens to become addicted to nicotine, Reuters found that at least 20 brands continue to sell Chinese-made disposable devices with kid-friendly flavors, such as "peach blueberry candy" and "pineapple strawnana" at liquor stores, smoke shops, and convenience stores throughout the U.S.
According to a Reuters review of retail sales data, flavored disposable vaping devices account for one-third of U.S. e-cigarette sales, up from less than 2 percent three years ago.
These figures, which were drawn from a dataset produced by IRI, a Chicago market research firm, showed that consumers spent more than $2 billion on the new generation of disposable e-cigarettes over the past year.
They also surpass the market share of previous market leader Juul's by some three percentage points since March.
Juul's is partly owned by Marlboro cigarette manufacturer the Altria Group.
An individual outside IRI, who declined to be identified, shared the data with Reuters, but an IRI spokesperson stressed it is "unable to confirm any information you have received from an outside source," so the figures should not be attributed to IRI.
In written responses, the FDA said it "is constantly monitoring the changing marketplace" and is "deeply committed to addressing the ongoing public health concerns around youth e-cigarette use."
In January 2020, the FDA banned all flavors offered by Juul's and other cartridge-based e-cigarettes, except tobacco and menthol flavors, and in June it sought to ban the sale of all Juul e-cigarettes. But it has since postponed this order.
In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Juul's cartridge-based device, sweet-flavored, disposable e-cigarettes began flooding the market in 2020. Both varieties vaporize a liquid that contains the addictive chemical nicotine.
According to data, three brands, Kangvape Onee Stick, Esco Bars and Breeze Smoke Breeze Pro, recorded weekly sales of more than $3 million each as of 12th June.
Representatives of Esco Bars and Breeze Smoke said their products contain synthetic nicotine, which is not derived from tobacco plants and was not under FDA's jurisdiction until Congress acted earlier this year.
The FDA declined to disclose the names of synthetic nicotine products that the ban applied to, but on its website, it said on 3rd August that "it is illegal" to sell any e-cigarettes using synthetic nicotine without its authorization.
As of 15th August, the FDA had not granted such authorizations, telling Reuters it is seeking to understand whether the devices' "nicotine content or formulation may contribute to seizures," which happen mostly in youth and young adults.
While the look-a-likes are continuing to make hay, Big News Network reports JUUL took the proactive decision to suspend the sale of Mango, Fruit, Cucumber, and Creme flavored JUUL pods in retail. In October 2019, the company suspended the online sale of Mango, Fruit, Cucumber, and Creme flavored JUUL pods on JUUL.com. In November 2019, the company suspended the sale of Mint-flavored JUUL pods in retail and on JUUL.com. On July 10, 2020, they also suspended the sale of Classic Tobacco flavored JUUL pods in retail and on their website.