NACS Warns Retailers About E-Cigarette Flavor Ban Stings

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now enforcing its new policy prohibiting the sale of unauthorized flavored vapor cartridges.

The ban went into effect on Feb. 6, and the FDA immediately began enforcing the policy shift. Tobacco and menthol vapor cartridges can remain on the shelf.

"The agency intends to prioritize enforcement against certain illegally marketed flavored e-cigarette products, focusing on products that are particularly popular with youth and are easily accessible or marketed to them — such as flavored, cartridge-based e-cigarette products (other than tobacco and menthol)," the agency has stated.

To download the FDA's guidance document, click here.

According to NACS, some retailers have reported that undercover persons began conducting sting operations, telling store associates that while they can't purchase the product, another employee of the store left product in the back for them. 

However, if the product is sold or given to anyone, other than the wholesaler or manufacturer to which the product is being returned, it is a violation of the law, NACS stressed.

"NACS strongly urges all retailers to take precautions to ensure that products are removed from stores as soon as possible to prevent any inadvertent sales," the convenience store association said.

It suggested retailers follow their own operational best practices for storing, handling and disposing of unsold inventory "that has been adulterated/recalled/banned or otherwise not permitted for sale."

The items should be packaged, sealed and secured within an area of the store or warehouse that the public cannot access until the products can be returned to the manufacturer or wholesaler, NACS added.

The recent policy does not affect e-liquids or disposable electronic cigarettes or vapor products. However, if a manufacturer does not file a premarket tobacco application (PMTA) by the May 12, 2020 deadline those products must be pulled from the backbar as well, as Convenience Store News previously reported. 

Under the current regulations, the FDA must approve PMTAs for any tobacco product that was not on the market before Feb. 15, 2007.