The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to 30 retailers, including one distributor, for illegally selling unauthorized tobacco products. 

The unauthorized products were various types of Puff and Hyde brand disposable e-cigarettes, which were two of the most commonly reported brands used by youth e-cigarette users in 2022. The Puff products include Puff Bar

“Protecting our nation’s youth from tobacco products, including disposable e-cigarettes, is a top priority for the FDA,” says FDA commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, in a release. “We’re committed to holding all players in the supply chain—not just manufacturers but also retailers and distributors—accountable to the law.”

The warning letters are a result of a nationwide blitz to crack down on the sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes that are popular with youth, specifically Puff and Hyde products. The blitz included investigations of hundreds of retailers and distributors across the country. 

All products cited in the warning letters are disposable e-cigarettes, which are the most commonly used e-cigarette product type among youth. Puff Bar and Hyde were the first and third most popular brands used by youth who reported using e-cigarettes, according to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Among youth e-cigarette users, about 20% reported usually using Puff Bar or Hyde brand products in 2022. 

“Since becoming director of [Center for Tobacco Products], I’ve been crystal clear that FDA will not stand by while retailers and distributors seek to profit off illegally selling products that are well-known to appeal to youth,” says Brian King, PhD, MPH, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, in a release. “Retailers and distributors play a key role in keeping unauthorized tobacco products off the shelves, and if they fail to do so, we’re committed to taking appropriate action.”

When e-cigarettes lack a marketing authorization order from the FDA, selling or distributing them to consumers in the US is prohibited under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA generally sends warning letters the first time an inspection or investigation reveals a violation of the law, and recipients are given 15 working days to respond with the steps they’ll take to correct the violation and prevent future violations. A majority of recipients of warning letters voluntarily correct the stated violation. However, failure to promptly correct the violations can result in additional FDA actions such as an injunction, seizure, and/or civil money penalties. 

In addition to today’s actions among retailers, the FDA issued a warning letter to an importer of Puff Bar in October 2022; that investigation remains ongoing. To date, the FDA has authorized 23 tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products and devices. These are the only e-cigarette products that currently may be lawfully sold in the US.