(StraightNews.org) – Federal agents have intercepted a shipment of illegal e-cigarettes worth $18 million and disguised to avoid detection. The Food and Drug Administration, in partnership with US Customs and Border Protection, seized the vaping devices at Los Angeles International Airport and said they had been disguised as toys and harmless household items. Top brands were included in the find, including Lost Mary, Funky Republic, and the most popular brand among US teens, Elf Bar – made by Chinese firm iMiracle Shenzhen.
It is the first time the federal agencies have publicly announced a seizure from China, and while the products are widely available in stores, the FDA instructed its officials to begin seizing them in May. Brian King, a spokesperson for the FDA, said, “Those shamelessly attempting to smuggle illegal e-cigarettes, particularly those that appeal to youth, into this country should take heed of today’s announcement.”
Elf Bar is the most commonly used vape in America and is marketed to young people with flavors such as dragon fruit banana berry, orange soda, and watermelon bubble gum. When the FDA banned its import earlier this year, iMiracle reportedly rebranded under several new names.
Statistics from March 2023 show that 3.7% of Americans “vape.” Vapes are small devices that contain aerosolized vapor of varying flavors that are “smoked” by the user. The products do contain nicotine, so they have the same potential for addiction as cigarette smoking.
The Trump administration considered banning vaping, and President Trump tweeted in 2019 that he would meet with vaping industry representatives and doctors, and his priority was to balance children’s safety with the rights and freedoms of small businesses. He settled for restrictions rather than an outright ban.
Little is known about the health impact of vaping, but John Hopkins research finds that while vapes are not harmless, they are less dangerous than cigarettes. “There’s almost no doubt that vaping exposes you to fewer toxic chemicals than smoking traditional cigarettes,” said Dr. Michael Blaha.
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