FDA issues warning to retailers over vape products that resemble toys, kid’s drinks

As a new school year begins, there are new warnings about illegal e-cigarettes aimed at children and teens.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 3:47 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - As a new school year begins, there are new warnings about illegal e-cigarettes aimed at children and teens. The FDA issued a warning to retailers about selling illegal vape products that resemble toys, popular kid’s drinks, and even school supplies.

“…And when you see news articles like this, where they have Spongebob Square Pants and things that look like toys, I think it removes any question that these companies are marketing to children,” said Ananda Lennox, coordinator of the West Springfield Care Coalition.

Since these products can be deceiving, the FDA is also warning parents and teachers to be on the lookout as they begin the new school year. Lennox told us the coalition has partnered with the school district and the town’s health department to crack down on youth vaping and there is some good news. Based on their most recent prevention needs assessment survey of eighth, twelfth, and tenth graders in West Springfield, 92 percent do not vape, but that still leaves eight percent.

“On the first day of school with the vape detectors, I think they caught at least 10 kids vaping on the first day,” Lennox added.

Lennox said they have installed vape detectors in multiple areas of the school buildings and by next year, there should have enough detectors to cover the middle and high schools entirely. Some of the ways they are working to educate students and deter them from vaping include partnering with the health department to fund free vape cessation for adolescents, in addition to diversion tactics.

“Instead of getting suspended when kids get caught, they come see me and the school resource officer and we get four sessions of motivational interviewing and tips on how to stop and stuff like that,” Lennox noted.

They also utilize some of their high schoolers to educate the younger students by pointing out marketing tactics, the cost of vapes, and how to refuse a vape.

“When you’re young, you don’t think anything bad is going to happen to you, but nobody likes to feel like they’ve been duped or betrayed and so you know when you can connect to them like, this is how much money they are making every day by selling you these products and this is what it’s doing to your lungs. Doesn’t it feel like they are taking advantage to you and assuming you are naïve?” Lennox said.

According to the FDA’s website, the retailers were given 15 working days to respond with the steps they’ll take to correct the violation and to prevent future violations. Failure to promptly correct the violations can result in additional actions.

Youth vaping resources: