Flavored, nicotine-packed vape products manufactured in China are becoming increasingly common among teenagers and raising health concerns.

The problem took off in February of 2020 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration implemented a ban on the sale of many flavored vaping products, pushing compliant manufacturers out of the flavored market while some Chinese-based manufacturers continued to distribute and sell the now banned-products to American youth.

Those products can contain much higher levels of nicotine and heavy metals.

“It kind of fell off the world’s radar map after COVID, and now it’s more dangerous than ever,” Rich Marianos, former assistant director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, consultant, and Georgetown professor, told The Center Square.

Now, the FDA has begun cracking down on Chinese-imported flavored vape products, but some experts say it is not enough. They also argue the crackdown should have happened years ago.

Late last month, the FDA announced that disposable flavored vapes are “priority for enforcement and compliance action.” The federal agency also announced a “retailer inspection blitz” and crackdown on illegal sales of popular disposable e-cigarettes.

“Protecting our nation’s youth from tobacco products – including disposable e-cigarettes – is a top priority for the FDA,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement with the announcement. “We’re committed to holding all players in the supply chain – not just manufacturers but also retailers and distributors – accountable to the law.”

As part of this effort, U.S. Customs are now able to detain certain disposable e-cigarette brands as they are imported into the U.S. The FDA also sent warning letters to Shenzhen Innokin Technology Co. Ltd., the maker of two popular vape brands, Esco Bars and Breeze for “manufacturing, distributing, and/or importing unauthorized tobacco products in the United States.”

They also warned some retailers for selling Hyde and Puff Bar products.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, over 2.5 million youth reported using e-cigarettes last year, saying that “flavored products, disposable devices, and a wide variety of brands threaten the health of our nation’s youth.”

“Around the country…almost 60% of the kids now are using disposable vape products, all of them that have not been approved by the FDA, all of them that are contraband, all of them that are being manufactured over in China with no regulation and no controls, and many of the people that are involved in the manufacture are Chinese organized crime,” Marianos said.

Many of the Chinese vape products appear marketed to underage consumers. A major reason U.S. regulators were concerned about flavors were fears that they appealed to young consumers. Flavors vary widely, from “Banana Berry Punch” to “Straw Nanners Ice.”

“Flavors like tooty-fruity, packaging with…cartoon characters,” Marianos said.

The FDA crackdown and promise to take on local retailers raises questions about resources for enforcement, particularly how the FDA will enforce a nationwide ban on what has become an addictive, highly popular, illicit product for teens which is also commonly available at local vape shops.

“Why it is dangerous … is these disposable vapes have more nickel, cadmium, and lead in them than anything in them, and they can give these young kids bone cancer,” he said. “They are truly a hazard to their health.”

This article was originally published on TheCenterSquare.com and is republished with permission.

Casey Harper is a Senior Reporter for the Washington, D.C. Bureau. He previously worked for The Daily Caller, The Hill, and Sinclair Broadcast Group. A graduate of Hillsdale College, Casey's work has also...

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