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Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on the US Food and Drug Administration to investigate a hot, new Chinese-made e-cigarette that he believes is skirting American advertising laws by appealing directly to kids and teenager via social media.
The New York Democrat said the e-cig — called “Elf Bar” — is wrapped in colorful packaging to attract youthful customers. And it hooks them with kid-friendly flavors like rainbow candy, peach mango, cotton candy and vanilla ice cream, according to a Sunday statement.
“While the FDA has done much to snuff out the worst kinds of e-cigs that can hook kids, like Juul, there are clear workarounds and illegal methods being used by sneaky actors like Elf Bar,” Schumer said in the statement.
“Elf Bar is littering TikTok and Instagram, using influencers they pay directly, to push the e-cig to kids and teens,” he continued. “This kind of ploy might totally evade FDA advertising rules, and we have to get ahead of it.”
Schumer said Elf Bar may be even worse than Juul — the popular e-cigarette maker that was forced to pull certain flavors because they allegedly enticed kids — given its “shoddy manufacturing, the risk of counterfeit products and its risk for mislabeled nicotine levels.”
He added that federal regulators must use their “full authority and power to investigate and take actions against Elf Bar and be prepared to ban it from the market,” the statement said.
The FDA did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
The use of disposable e-cigarettes has skyrocketed in recent years, especially among kids.
Schumer’s office said disposable e-cig use catapulted by about 1,000% from 2019 to 2020 among high schoolers. And it increased by more than 400% among middle-school e-cigarette users.
Elf Bar, which is based in Shenzhen, China, is available at bodegas throughout New York City, Schumer said.
In an open letter to the FDA, Schumer said he was worried that companies like Elf Bar – who offer “cheap, colorful and sweet disposable e-cigarettes” – will push the crisis to new heights.
Schumer asked that the FDA also look at the Elf Bar’s manufacturing supply chain, which could lend itself to counterfeit products bearing the company’s name.
“Regulators cannot rely on modern day tobacco barons to regulate themselves,” Schumer wrote. “Considering the risks at play and the health of our nation’s children, I ask that the FDA prioritize this issue immediately.”