FDA still hasn’t busted a vape shop for sales to minors

If vape shops are "marketing to youth," they're not very good at it.


The FDA has released a new list of retailers who were caught selling to minors, and again there were no vape shops on the list. In fact, there have been no brick-and-mortar vapor businesses cited by the federal agency since the deeming regulations went into effect on August 8.

This time there were also no online vaping businesses on the list either. The last time we reported on the FDA’s compliance enforcement, there were several online sellers who received warning letters from the agency.

Among the 329 businesses who received warning letters in this round of enforcement actions, there were no dedicated vapor businesses. The offenders were mostly convenience and tobacco stores, gas stations, groceries, and discount retailers like Wal-Mart. Our search of the FDA’s database of compliance check inspections found no vape shops among the recipients of warning letters of other actions.

Repeat offenders can be fined, and multiple offenses can earn a “no tobacco sale” order.

The FDA contracts local and state governments, and private companies, to hire and train teenagers to attempt to make purchases illegally. These sting operations have been part of the federal agency’s compliance policing strategy since they were given responsibility for regulating tobacco sales by the Tobacco Control Act in 2009.

Warning letters are the first step in penalizing retailers who violate the FDA’s rules. Repeat offenders can be fined, and multiple offenses can earn a “no tobacco sale” order, preventing the retailer from selling any tobacco product.

The new federal regulations require retailers to check the ID of anyone under age 27, and makes sales to people under age 18 illegal. According to the FDA, as of September, it had conducted more than 660,000 inspections of tobacco retailers since 2009, issuing nearly 50,000 warning letters, and initiated 8,290 civil money penalty cases.

Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.