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Smoking cessation

UK government 'closely monitoring' e-cigarette refills that resemble children's treats

Exclusive The Department of Health and Social Care is “closely monitoring” firms selling e-cigarette liquids in England that look like children’s juice, sweets and biscuits after a major crackdown by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Examples of deceptive e-liquids packaging outlined by the FDA

Images courtesy of the US Food and Drug Administration

The US Food and Drug Administration sent 13 warning letters to manufacturers, distributors and retailers selling e-liquids that resemble “kid-friendly products” 

On 1 May 2018, as part of its new Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, the FDA issued 13 warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for selling e-cigarette liquids that resemble "kid-friendly food products”, some of which include “cartoon-like imagery”. 

Some of the products named in the warning letters include ‘Candy King’, ‘Pink Sticks’, ‘V’Nilla cookies & milk’, and ‘Twirly Pop’. After searching on a number of popular vaping sites, The Pharmaceutical Journal confirmed that a number of the products involved are also available to buy in the UK.

After being told that these products were being sold in the UK, by The Pharmaceutical Journal, a spokesperson for the DHSC said that while current evidence suggests that uptake of e-cigarettes among young people is very low, it will “continue to monitor this area very closely”.

She added: “It is against the law to sell e-cigarettes to under 18s in this country and we take advertising or promotion of these products extremely seriously – if there is any evidence of this, local trading standards have enforcement powers to take action.”

A recent Public Health England evidence review, carried out in February 2018, found that “despite some experimentation among never smokers”, e-cigarettes “do not appear” to be undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking in the UK among young people. However, a study by the campaigning group Action on Smoking and Health, and cited by PHE, found that 2.4% of young people aged between 11 and 18 years used electronic cigarettes.

The DHSC said its Tobacco Control Plan for England, published in July 2017, committed PHE to update its evidence report on e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery systems annually until the end of the current parliament in 2022.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency declined to comment as it has no remit in this area because it relates to retail compliance.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204802

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