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Federal Agents Seize $1M-Plus Worth of Unauthorized Vapor Products

The joint operation between the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection grew from a newly formed federal task force.
A magnifying glass over the letters FDA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 53,700 unauthorized e-cigarette products valued at more than $1.08 million. 

[Read more: Altria & R.J. Reynolds Vapor Seek FDA Authorization for New Products]

While the shipment was found at a Chicago port of entry, the unauthorized products were intended for a wholesaler based in Mississippi, according to the FDA. 

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"[The] FDA will continue to use the full scope of our enforcement tools — including product seizures — to hold bad actors throughout the tobacco product supply chain accountable," said Brian King, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "This action demonstrates how collaboration across the federal government is critical to combat the importation of unauthorized e-cigarettes into the United States."

The seized shipment, which arrived in the United States from China, included 179 boxes of unauthorized e-cigarettes that were mislabeled as other items. When the FDA and CBP examined the products, they determined the shipment violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. 

The FDA and CBP are part of a recently formed federal multiagency task force to address the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarettes. Though the two agencies had previously worked on joint operations, the task force allows partners in the federal government to better coordinate and streamline efforts to bring all available criminal and civil tools to bear against companies trying to evade the law.  

As part of the FDA's comprehensive approach to law enforcement, within the past year, the agency has taken several first-of-their-kind actions, including coordinating with CBP to seize more than $18 million in unauthorized e-cigarettes  during a joint operation at LAX airport, and in the spring, it coordinated with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Marshals Service to seize over $700,000 worth of unauthorized cigarettes  from a warehouse in California.

In addition to product seizures, to date, FDA has issued 680 warning letters to firms for manufacturing, selling, and/or distributing illegal unauthorized new tobacco products, issued more than 600 warning letters to retailers for the sale of unauthorized tobacco products, and filed civil money penalty complaints against 60 manufacturers and more than 140 retailers for distribution and/or sale of unauthorized tobacco products.

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