U.S. market: vape products sold have tripled again in just one year

March 16 – According to a review of U.S. retail sales data by the Truth Initiative, the number of unique e-cigarette products has more than quadrupled from 453 in June 2021 to 2,023 in June 2022, many with flavors that appeal to young people, according to media reports.

This growth, based on NielsenIQ’s retail sales estimates*, demonstrates how companies continue to blatantly flout the regulatory process and launch new products without FDA authorization, a requirement for legal market entry.

As youth e-cigarette use remains a serious public health threat, with more than 2.5 million high school students reporting current e-cigarette use by 2022, the proliferation of unauthorized e-cigarettes underscores the urgent need for comprehensive regulation and enforcement.

Status of E-Cigarette Regulation and Enforcement

After years of delay, the FDA is reviewing e-cigarette manufacturers’ premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs) to determine whether their products can remain on the market. Any products that are not authorized by September 2021 should be removed, and no new products should be allowed to enter the market without preauthorization. However, the tobacco industry continues to flood the market with new products and apparently has no fear of federal retaliation.

To date, fewer than 30 e-cigarette products have received FDA marketing approval, covering a small portion of the e-cigarette market, excluding the most popular products among young people. applications from leading e-cigarette brands such as JUUL, Vuse (Alto), blu, and others, which account for 75 percent of the market share and are most popular among young people, are still pending. Meanwhile, the FDA issued marketing denials in January 2023 for two Reynolds menthol e-cigarette products and in 2022 for Logic, which represents just over 1% of the e-cigarette market according to retailer scanner data. OCHA’s recent acquisition of popular e-cigarette brand NJOY has also raised concerns that the tobacco company will use its vast marketing and distribution system to increase NJOY’s reach and availability.

The FDA said it has acted on 99 percent of the 6.7 million applications it received, and more than 260 e-cigarette companies that submitted PMTAs have received marketing denials. This should translate into fewer recorded sales of e-cigarette bar codes. Instead, NielsenIQ data clearly shows a dramatic increase in the number of unique e-cigarette product barcodes, with sales peaking at 2,023 products in June 2022. While the data suggests the number of unique products has recently leveled off, there are still nearly 2,000 e-cigarette barcodes based on the latest data reviewed for cigarette products sold in September 2022.

What is the urgent need for comprehensive regulation of e-cigarettes and what are the new laws for e-cigarettes

The rapid rise of e-cigarette products has an overwhelming effect on the FDA. The large number of new e-cigarette products has created an even larger PMTA backlog for the FDA.

The FDA has acted to address this situation in the past. For example, in October 2022, FDA filed a permanent injunction complaint against several e-cigarette manufacturers through the U.S. Department of Justice, and in February 2023, FDA also announced the filing of civil money penalty (CMP) complaints against four tobacco product manufacturers who manufacture and sell e-cigarette liquids without FDA authorization.

The Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) recently shared concrete steps that may ultimately help prevent tobacco manufacturers from playing “catch me” with the FDA. the CTP announced its intention to develop and implement a five-year strategic plan by December 2023 that will help the agency move from a reactive to a proactive mindset.

The Truth Initiative emphasized the need for the plan to include a clear, scientifically sound and enforceable strategy to regulate and enforce the continued proliferation of tobacco products that appeal to young people. The agency pledged to increase transparency in its compliance and enforcement and committed to publicly sharing a list of products that are legally marketed. The agency also announced that it will work with other federal agencies to strengthen enforcement efforts.

It is critical that the FDA make these efforts quickly to protect our nation’s youth from companies that continue to obstruct the law and put a new generation of young people at risk for nicotine addiction.

Conclusions drawn from NielsenIQ data are those of the researchers and do not reflect the views of NielsenIQ. NielsenIQ is not responsible for, and was not involved in, nor did it participate in the analysis and preparation of the reported results.