With vaping products having hit their peak popularity in recent years, Florida has been the number one state for the sale of illicit vapor products in the country, many of which are coming from China and onto US soil.
According to the latest industry data, Florida is distributing the most illegal vapor products which many blame on China as the most prolific company, HDQ, is based out of China.
Luckily groups like the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) and state agencies are aware of this influx of Chinese-made illegal vapor products. However, the Federation has been rather discouraged that there has been very little mobilization by the FDA to combat the matter. There isn't a material list produced by the FDA on what products are allowed to be sold, and up until now, the only resistance this situation has seen is warning letters.
The issue primarily is with the removable vapes, which pose a health threat to consumers considering that illegal drugs like Fentanyl could be introduced with these products.
The FDA however, did recently release a list of 42 retailers that the federal government would be seeking civil monetary penalties from, with 11 of those companies based in Florida. Brands like Elf Bar and Esco Bar have been put on the FDA's list for their appealing nature to children with fruity flavors.
"The FDA moves at a ponderous pace and the industry knows that and exploits it," said Dr. Robert Jackler of Stanford University, who has studied the rise of disposables. "Time and again, the from the market."
The FRF has now outlined a new plan to apply pressure on the FDA to further pursue this injustice. The FRF call to action will attempt to put more aggressive pressure on the FDA to investigate these overseas products which currently undergo no product testing. The FRF also aims to help clarify for retailers what can and cannot be legally sold.
When asked why vaping might be such a big issue in Florida, Florida Retail Federation President Scott Shalley said, "We're one of the largest states in the union, obviously. Our ports do a lot of business and a lot of that product is coming in through Florida ports."
Shalley also reiterated that Florida was ground zero for the illicit vaping products trade.
"Unfortunately, we are the number 1 state for the sale of illicit, illegal vapor products, most of which do come from China, so its something we're really encouraging the FDA to get more aggressive about to combat the influx of products, providing more clarity for retailers and subsequently consumers," Shalley said, adding the market is being "hijacked by illegitimate actors that are putting products on the street that are dangerous and are often marketed directly to youth."
Finally, the FRF will be working with the Florida General Assembly to pass legislation that supplements enforcement at the federal level to get illicit products off the shelf.