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Federal Operation Seizes $700K in Illegal Vapor Products

The confiscated items included youth-appealing brands such as Puff Bar, Elf Bar and Pixi.
FDA headquarters

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Marshals Service, seized unauthorized e-cigarette products valued at more than $700,000. 

[Read more: Biden Administration Indefinitely Postpones Menthol Ban]

The e-cigarettes were located in a warehouse in Alhambra, Calif., and are believed to be owned by several California-based distributors. The seized products were mostly flavored, disposable e-cigarette products, including youth-appealing brands such as Puff Bar/Puff, Elf Bar/EB Design, Esco Bar, Kuz, Smok and Pixi.

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This action represents the first time the FDA and the DOJ have seized tobacco products in coordination with the Marshals Service. In total, the joint effort resulted in the seizure of more than 45,000 unauthorized e-cigarettes.

"Removing unauthorized tobacco products from the supply chain is one of many enforcement tools we can use," said Jill Atencio, acting director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "FDA will continue to take appropriate action across the entire supply chain against unauthorized tobacco products and against those manufacturing, distributing, importing, or selling unauthorized e-cigarette products — especially those most appealing to youth."

The seizure initially targeted products being held and sold by MDM Group, a distributor doing business as The FDA issued a warning letter to MDM Group in May 2023 for offering unauthorized, flavored e-cigarette products for sale or distribution. In January 2024 the agency conducted a follow-up inspection of the firm and determined that it continued to commercially market its illegal products. Then, on April 5 the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles filed a civil forfeiture complaint.

While conducting the seizure at MDM's facility, the agencies were informed that several firms may have an ownership interest in the unauthorized e-cigarettes seized.

As of April 2024, FDA has issued approximately 670 warning letters to firms for manufacturing and/or distributing illegal e-cigarette products and issued more than 550 warning letters to retailers for the sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes. The agency has also filed civil money penalty complaints against more than 50 e-cigarette manufacturers and more than 100 retailers for manufacture and/or sale of unauthorized new tobacco products.

A full list of the seized products is available here.

A list of tobacco products that may be legally marketed in the United States is available via the FDA's new Searchable Tobacco Products Database.

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